Linkspam Friday: September 28

This is one of those weeks that hasn’t been all that remarkable, beyond the worst migraine of my life, to the point that I was considering discussing the terror that strikes the autistic-inertia of my heart every time I open up my dashboard and see WordPress cheerfully promoting the Gutenburg editor. (I still use the .org layout because it’s quicker to load than the current “improved” editor, which never seemed in any way improved to me.) In some ways I feel change doesn’t bother me too much, at least in the sense of someone asking me to go somewhere without little preparation or offering up an unexpected activity; I can handle the disruption of someone coming in and upending my plan for the day. When people ask me about change, that’s the sort of thing that comes to mind. Of course I can handle it … can’t I?

Thinking on any change to WordPress has my toes clenching. (Tumblr is a disaster of constant changes I don’t like; the new coloured text ability is just awful, partly from the glare of the green against a backlit screen and mostly because I’m not accustomed to seeing coloured text. Thank all gods for XKit.) Changes to foods I like are a nightmare of why did they do that made worse by the narrow selection of foods I do like and the horror of trying new ones. Then when I consider the nightmare in going somewhere new and how many panic attacks I had last week over a new therapist, I realise that yes, I do not handle change. Not to mention that all the worst mental health spirals I have suffered took place against the context of change for which I wasn’t prepared for or supported in…

In many ways, I don’t understand it myself. I like learning new things and I like experimenting with design: part of the reason I find Adobe CS enjoyable is the wealth of discovery! I love trying out new crafts I saw online. It seems as though these things should be similar, change and learning, but they’re not, and I don’t know why I like trying new things in a complex program while I fall apart at the thought of having to try a new brand of microwave rice.

All this has made me realise that my goal in Kit March is to get both Darius and Tes comfortable in a new place and circumstance: to showcase the growth of a sense of stability after a change neither can quite handle, and then (perhaps not metaphorically) burn the house down. I have no plan to end the story there, mind, but I do plan to disrupt what looks like a happy mid-point.

Lastly, my severe anxiety has left me struggling with a few ordinary things like checking my PayPal account. This is an extremely belated expression of gratitude for this reason, but I do want to thank the people who have been so kind as to buy me a ko-fi. Thank you, so very much, for your support: it means the absolute world to me!

Header text: Aro Worlds: Connecting aro creatives and aro audiences. Header is in antique black type above an ornate divider.

Review – C. Greenwood’s Catalysts of Chaos: In which I review a delightfully no-romance sword-and-sorcery series. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much to my taste in terms of pacing and character development, but if you want fast-paced high-on-escapades fantasy with no romance between protagonists, despite their comprising the usual triangle of one female and two male characters, I do think it’s worth considering.

Reblog – Book Contributor Survey: If you’re aro and interested in a book designed to help people who work with a-specs better understand us, please consider taking this survey! I have it understood, after making that post, that discussions around name-changing are taking place, which is fantastic. I am so behind ace organisations who are willing to take the step to include aromantics in name as well as subject!

Ask – Special Interests, Autism and Coping: In which I think I’m asked for advice on something I am absolutely rubbish at doing. I’m still in the midst of a chronic pain flare-up brought on by my week of throwing words at Birds of a Feather a couple of weeks ago. That doesn’t stop me from writing a long post anyway, however…

Ask – How is Scrooge Aro Coding: Because it’s been so long since I’ve read The Christmas Carol, I do the student essay thing of bulking up the word count with explanations over text citations. Seriously, though, if you want an explanation of why coding is coding and how it works, I have provided. If you want detailed examples of Scrooge’s aromantic coding, on the other hand, I have to admit that I spend more time talking about The Big Bang Theory instead.

Reblog – Dean Winchester is Allosexual Aro: In which my mind is blown by the obvious truth that Supernatural’s Dean is allo-aro, because I don’t know how I didn’t see it. (Although I’m not sure I’ve seen the show since coming out as aro, so that might be part of it. The other part of it is, of course, amatonormativity.) I now know why Dean is the only brother I cared about and why I was never on board the S5 ending, because Dean is as aro as fuck and just doesn’t know it. Guess who’s going to start a Supernatural rewatch?

Ask – Autism and Visual Description: In which an anon seriously makes my day by giving me permission to ramble on about how autism and aphantasia impacts me as a writer. Thank you so much, anon, because I had an absolute blast getting to explore and explain this post, particularly in terms of hashing out the difference between small-detail focus and big-picture focus in terms of description. It’s something I’ve known for a while, but I’ve never had the chance to talk about it!

(Note: this was asked in response to this post I made about finding a writing partner. Do people normally write these like an unholy merging of resume and job posting?)

Ask – Fluidity and Identity: In which I am asked for reassurance about an anon’s using the aroflux label while experiencing romantic attraction and I talk a bit about the internalised hate and anxiety I have for my own fluidity. Remind me one day to write a full post on this, because I constantly feel as though I cannot talk authoritatively about my experiences with asexuality and pansexuality on account of my fluidity (abrosexuality). Obviously, this fear hasn’t stopped me, but it does mean I have to wrestle with my own anxiety in order to do so. Being both aro-ace and allo-aro in aromantic spaces is a strange and awkward thing.

Ask – What Constitutes Romance Repulsion: In which I fail to have a useful answer for anon on how to describe repulsion that isn’t complete, but I do believe that the disability model, where ideally we don’t assume access needs and instead ask on an individual basis, should apply here. Or, in other words, fight the Western habit of assuming. I do think that sex and romance repulsion, though, certainly constitute access needs, in the same way other things are advised for, when it comes to interaction with and exposure to content.

Header text reads "Stim Toy Box" in white text on a colourful, stripedfractal background. Two small bear images stand on either side of the text, one holding a fish and wearing a fishing hat, the other holding a pot and wearing a spinner cap. The edges of the banner mimic torn paper.

Review – Watermelon Cool Pack, Daiso: I’m still working my way through birthday gifts, and this was a present for my watermelon-themed collection. I don’t always like the Daiso cool packs for squishing, because some of them smell terrible, but this one is good!

Review – Crystal Clear Super Brain Putty, K-Mart: I’ve had a bad experience with another knock-off brand of the liquid-glass-style putty, but this one is pretty decent. It’s not quite as stretchy as I like, but it’s not so brittle as to be a problem. I do think, though, that the time required for the bubbles to rise from the putty–for it to be beautifully clear each use–is such a drawback!

Header image comprising layer of two pieces of clear tape stuck in a row. Grey pencil text reading "writing and fiction" has been drawn over the tape, with a rainbow underline in crayon beneath the text.

Kit March: I’m reworking a chapter I’ve written twice because I’m completely changing the direction. Again. On the positive side, Darius now uses melting cow hooves for glue as a threatened punishment towards his students and says the immortal line, “You can’t be any kind of maker without a good foundation in adhesive.” I defy anyone to tell me it isn’t true. Can I say how much I enjoy writing autistic characters who are allowed to be unapologetically nerdy even inside the context of a fantasy novel? Because I do. I could never go back to writing more traditional heroic characters after having allowed myself to write autistics who bond over shared opinions on glue and the best ways to magically change hair colour.

(On an unrelated subject, I have a plastic drawer that just houses different types of glue, and it is a pain to me that the glue I used for bookbinding is no longer being manufactured. I have one precious bottle left.)

Birds of a Feather: I’m still scratching my way through the “denouement of disparate people coming together as chosen family to fight for all that is right” scene. I sketched out a bit at the end that’s designed to shatter preconceptions about aro-ace Ein (aro-ace autistics are not necessarily bastions of innocence), reinforce the fact that Paide’s death hasn’t erased his pansexuality and suggest that the College is (mostly) comprised of adult students, but I’m not sure I’ll keep it. It’s a bit funny, a little too funny for the tone of the rest of the book. Maybe a flash-fiction-style side-story? I do like it in terms of depicting the diversity of adult autistic experiences, but I’m not sure it belongs in this particular book.

I do feel constrained at times, caught between wanting to reference, discuss and depict sexuality because my characters are adults and this is part of (some of) their experiences, yet keeping in mind that my audience is more likely to be an a-spec one. On the one hand, autistic adults as proactive instigators of sexual experiences is thin on the narrative ground, and we are assumed to have an innocence that does us harm as autistics and as a-specs. When I think of Efe and Darius, I know there is little in the way of story on how a semi-verbal autistic aro trans man negotiates intimacy with a chatty allistic, alloromantic, cis man. (Or, for that matter, on a polyam semi-verbal autistic aro trans man negotiating intimacy with multiple partners.) I can’t even think of stories allowing for sexual intimacy between two autistic characters, never mind two trans and aromantic autistics. On the other hand, I don’t want to alienate sex-repulsed readers, particularly when I expect more of my readers to be asexual or ace-spectrum than allosexual. I also don’t feel that the culture allowing for fictional sexual exploration and adult content–even though I have never pretended to write for anyone other than adult readers–isn’t as accepting or tolerant as it was when I first came out as queer. This is more to do with social change in the broader/mainstream community, reflected back into LGBTQIA+ communities, but I do feel caught between a need for sexuality to be more of a presence versus the alienation I might cause.

Oddly enough, if I wrote romance, it wouldn’t be so much a problem. There’s still some space for sexual content in queer romance and more spaces set up specifically for that content. It’s because I’m writing non-romantic stories about aromantic characters that I feel conflicted, and I think that says something about how we assume non-romantic content to inherently be non-sexual. An assumption that doesn’t leave much space, creatively, for allosexual aromantics.