52 Weeks of Writing: Week 30—My therapist told me to do this.

A pug on a bed wrapped in a blanket and looking sad.
Photo by Matthew Henry / Unsplash

I'm writing this in bed, on a warm Friday afternoon, and I feel like bursting into tears. Maximum menstrual potential unfolding here. For a week I had a fever. As the fever died, the period struck. My cat and I have so far spent most of today in bed watching BBC's Planet Earth II and being grateful for the fact that we live in a house and not on a mountainside.

It is great inspiration for world-building, though. A reminder of the huge variety of landscapes, sights and sounds, that go into the creation of a world. I still marvel at how this planet, of all the planets, has evolved such a complex and self-replicating set of interconnected systems.

And deeply sad that we humans are in the process of systematically destroying these systems.

But that's not what I brought you here to talk about today. Today is about sharing my writing with my partner. I'm inspired by two co-occurring events. Firstly, there was a post on Threads remarking on how people we know in real life very often have little or no interaction with our worlds. And secondly, my SO has started fully reading and engaging with the first draft of the first ever real Amnar book.

This is entirely my fault. I pushed and pushed to get him to read more of my work than just The Problem with Gavin. He did read that and enjoyed it, but I felt that, as I started to retcon and rework the Amnar stories, it'd be great if he could read more of my long form writing and understand the world a little better.

Then he did actually start reading it, and I was deeply distressed by this and regretted saying anything, or even telling him I was a writer.

The panic set in even harder when he began texting me about it. On Tuesday night, as I was languishing in bed with a fever again, he let me know he'd reached the bit where Io and Tysria are arrested and Arandes rescues them. At this early point in the story, a lot hinges on Io's uncertainty about whether or not Arandes can be trusted. This is, therefore, a big moment.

I thought this would be great for both of us. T would understand a great deal more about who I am as a person, especially an autistic person with this intense special interest and internal world. I would also be able to talk about this whole world with him, like I used to do with the friend who first encouraged me to write again as an adult.

Now, this runs a lot of risks. What if he doesn't like it? What if it really is terrible? These two questions buzz away in my mind all the time and I've always been terrified of that happening. It's why I'm not published now, why I keep my writing too myself. As much as I dream of being published, I'm too terrified of people reading my work to put it out there.

I'm terrified of people thinking it's terrible.

Anybody who's known me for a while might find this surprising. After all, here I am keeping a blog and writing about, well, writing. Back in 2007 I released the first books as a podcast, then in 2012 and 2013 put out new versions of prequel series.

Untangling why I did that, and how I managed that, is a very tricky thing to do. Since I started writing again in 2003, I've lived caught in the tension between wanting to be published and not wanting to be read.

Because somebody, somewhere, might hate it. Someone, somewhere, might be offended by it. This is how the first Amnar books ended up stashed in out-of-date Word files I had to spend a day resurrecting back in December last year. I thought it wasn't so bad, but that's just me.

Fundamentally, I write because it's a private thing I do to interact with the internal world. But that doesn't mean I haven't always dreamt of being published. I grew up loving books and stories and the first thing I did, without thinking about it, was to copy what I saw in front of me, in the sense of "Oh, these people have stories in their heads. So do I! I shall write them down!"

That's lovely. It's exciting. I love worldbuilding, which is why I do so much of it. But there's a difference between doing that for yourself and having other people read it.

This ties into something I discussed with my therapist this week, hence the title of this post. I mentioned T reading and enjoying Amnar, and me feeling complicated about this. I think my complicated feelings are mostly the result of how my work and my writing—as well as the fact that I just enjoyed writing in the first place—affected my attempts to have relationships in the world.

As an autistic person, I struggle with social interactions and relationships. I have been conscious, all my life, that as much as I try to keep up with neurotypical interactions, I'm missing something that anybody who wants to bully or harass me can see and take advantage of. This happened to me all the time at school. Sometimes, it was because I was happy to write and talk about writing.

I didn't understand even into adulthood that, for most people, writing fiction isn't something you just sit down and do. Or talk about it with anybody and everybody. The consequences of not understanding that have often led me into painful situations. And, of course, overloading people with Amnar-related information and stories has led to them getting sick of me, with even more painful consequences for everybody involved.

So I feel complicated about writing and sharing it. I guess I'm a little scared that T will be bothered by me having all these people in my head that he can only meet via the medium of my books, not to mention, what if he thinks that it's terrible?

This got in the way of me even starting to write again for a long time. Every day, I'll be honest, it's still a battle to write. I clamber up the mountain of resistance through the day and really only start to feel better around 8.30 at night.

My therapist and I discussed this today and she remarked about loving my journals. I usually write one or two journals and send them over to her. It's like writing back in the days of Open Diary, so I can open up but also I know somebody is going to read my words and understand me a little better.

I said I struggle to write these posts every week. I want to be "useful", and "professional", and worry that I'm being boring or annoying. She said I should try writing like I write in the journals. It's not right for everyone, but maybe it's right for me.

This is why, once again, I've changed my strategy for these posts. Back to just writing whatever's in my head on a Friday afternoon.

But... no... WAIT!

That's not all. There is something else relevant to the actual 52 Weeks of Editing project I need to mention here. You might remember (if you were following along), that I did have a go at re-writing the original Io/Amnar story in April for Camp Nanowrimo Spring Edition.

Well, I got to 50k words, got anaemia and stopped. I also felt weird about it. It didn't seem right. I remember what drew my first reader in so hard was one specific dynamic that I built on over time. When I came back to the story, that same dynamic pulled me in.

T re-reading the story has underlined that for me. In the revised version, I ended up not making that dynamic the core of the story. Now I'm kind of regretting that. Once I've finished going through the Maali story I'm working on right now, I am definitely going to go back and find a way to make that compelling dynamic the core of the story again, at least to start with.

Anyway, that's mostly it for this week, except for the news that this morning I updated my Camp Nanowrimo stats and I have only fifty words to reach 50k for the month. How I managed not to just do those extra 50 words I don't know. But this is what happens when you write when you're not well.

See you next week.

Grogu falling asleep on a rock.