Yesterday I attended my first autism conference. I’ve gone to workshops and support group meetings, but never a large event. It was three days, but I could only make it to one. I chose the final day because John Elder Robison was a presenter. Yes, that means I missed the iconic Temple Grandin, but I was not disappointed. Not in Mr. Robison anyway. He redeemed the emotions and interest that the first speaker lacked/lost.
Back to the beginning… I started off early and drove to The University of West Florida, just me and my iPod with the “Wonder Rock” playlist on shuffle. (Translation: lots of Europe, Boston, and Mitch Malloy with a sprinkling of other assorted rockers prominently from the 1970s-1990s.) The campus—sprawling with space between buildings and acres of natural landscape left in tack—was lovely and the fact that their logo has a nautilus was, in my mind, a nod of serendipity to my adventure.
Mr. Robison was hilarious and thought provoking. His passion for sharing his stories (Hello, three books!) shined as well as his social quirks—like pacing around the stage when his family was doing their Q&A. And his family was great, too! Lots of insight and they answered a question for me: What’s the value of getting an Asperger’s diagnosis as an adult? (Which now, with the new DSM-V manual, would be “autism” since the Asperger’s label was removed and it doesn’t differentiate between the levels on the spectrum.)
I’m leaning toward Mr. Robison’ practical response, though greater peer acceptance and an official credential would be nice. The liability/cost of medical/life insurance when you are diagnosed is greater. Let’s hear it for logical thinkers!
One tool that Mr. Robison recommended was an Autism-Spectrum Quotient test that was posted by Wired magazine many years back. I took it and tested forty-two. No surprise to me. My husband scored seventeen—we’re a case study in opposites attract.
The conference was educational/life affirming. Lots of Aspies to hear from and several things were reinforced to me about what I can do to encourage my ASD son in his growth. What, you ask? Never give up because learning and development continues into adulthood and let him follow his passions/obsessions. Plus, I got two books autographed but I was too shy to ask for a photo.
I’ll diffidently go to another event where any of the Robisons are featured speakers. The day was well spent but I’m curious to see how my friends score on the AQ test. Leave your number in the comments if you’re feeling brave.
Last week’s tidal extremes have leveled out—and that’s a good thing. Each day’s not as emotionally draining, so there’s more energy for the rest of life.
First, I’ll share what literary news I do have. I passed thirty thousand words with FORTITUDE last night. I’m still trying to finish this draft by the end of the month, but I’m not going to stress if I don’t. That whole “don’t let your fortitude get corroded” thing will keep me from being too hard on myself.
I did celebrate a birthday last week. I kept mum about it, but I want to share a gift I received that has ties to this blog.
Yes, a fern terrarium to help me keep my dreams alive. One of my first thoughts was to name the fern on the tree “Corroded” and the terrarium “Fortitude” but my slightly superstitious mind then thought that if one died, there goes that novels chance in the world. And to reinforce that my initial idea wasn’t a good one, I spotted another fern beginning in a bed of moss on a different tree in the yard.
No way I’m ready for a third project!
On a personal note, I’m finishing up the last month of homeschooling with my kids before we break for several weeks in June. A break for us just means no paperwork. We’re forever learning and exploring—together and separately.
For the new readers (hello out there!) you can keep up with what books I’m devouring and other fun tidbits on my Facebook page and Twitter. Also, I’ve updated the look of my website, so if you’re reading this via e-mail, take the time to click over the site and let me know what you think.
A writing life is full of its own highs and lows and this week, though it’s just beginning, has both.
How do I know?
I’ve already experienced the spectrum of emotions.
Good news first: I passed twenty-five thousand words on the first draft of FORTITUDE. Most days I’m making myself write first thing in the morning and then again at night. That helps me stay focused on the storyline and keeps the characters fresh in my head.
Not so great news: my first rejection from a full manuscript submission. The publishing company gave me the opportunity to resubmit after the a few issues are beefed up and praised my quality of writing, but CORRODED is still looking for a home.
Also on the horizon this week is conducting my final meeting as president of Mobile Writers Guild. (I’ll let you decide where that scores on the spectrum.) Members vote for the new officers at the Thursday night meeting. It’s been a learning experience during the two terms I served and I’m ready to pass the mantel on to the next president.
Through it all, I’m working to keep my fortitude noncorrosive. And, yes, the fern on the oak is still alive.
Did you catch my post earlier this month about ferns? I didn’t have to wait for the summer heat to test me or the fern.
This past Sunday I had a minor freak-out about my writing goal—finishing the first draft of FORTITUDE—while I’m in my seventh month of waiting to hear back from publishers about CORRODED.
First draft goals can be hair-pulling. Waiting to hear back from the publishing industry, also nerve-racking. The two together equals fighting for sanity on at least a weekly basis.
While venting my concerns to MeLeesea Swann via chat room, she gave me the little “you can do it” and “don’t stress the numbers” and “it will happen” friendly feedback that can be easy to dismiss during epic stress moments. But then she hit me with something that made me laugh so loud I scared my kids.
DON’T LET YOUR FORTITUDE GET CORRODED.
Personalized prospective was all I needed. I shared the quote with family and our other writing friends. I even printed out copies of it on purple paper and hung them up around the house to remind me.
Then Monday morning happened.
I went outside to finish up some weeding. When I passed my little fern on the water oak, it looked like this:
ARGH! My little plant of hope, though surrounded in soft, green moss was withering away. If the fern couldn’t make it, then I might be able to keep my goals. Then I thought of fortitude being corroded and grabbed the hose. I soaked that thing and went on with my other yard work.
An hour later, no change.
Two hours, nothing.
Three hours, it looked slightly better.
About five hours later, it was back to this.
What can you do to keep your dreams alive? Be sure to involve a support system.
Coming May 14, 2013- Cleopatra’s Legacy
Book 1- The Emerald Ring. A new action packed middle grade fantasy series from
debut author, Dorine White. Read below for an excerpt not found in the
“Egypt- 30 BC
The velvet pouch hurtled across the room. Its cords whipped behind it and tangled in the servant’s outstretched hands.
Cleopatra’s tense voice rent the atmosphere. “Hurry, there’s not much time.” The horrified servant looked down at the lumpy sack resting in his palms. The queen continued, “I’m placing all my trust in you. Don’t let it fall into Roman hands.”
The servant’s legs trembled. He knew his own life was worth nothing compared to the precious objects imparted to him.
“I will not fail you.” The words fell from his lips in reverence. “Your legacy will be safe.”
The queen paced the floor in determined strides. Her short black hair bobbed against a tan face. Her eyes met his. “On your life, see that it is! I’ll not allow Egypt conquered so easily.”
He stuffed the precious bag into his linen tunic and left the royal bed chamber. Halfway down the hallway he abruptly stopped mid stride and quickly ducked down a narrow side passage. His timing was perfect as he avoided two Roman Centurions lurking in the torch lit corridor, but he collided with one of the queen’s maid servants. The wicker basket she held awkwardly in her arms wobbled and an angry hiss emanated from within its dark confines. The maid cast him a nasty look before hurrying on to the queen. He knew the queen’s plan was now in motion and rushed to leave the building before the chaos began.
Just as his bare feet touched the hot desert sand the sound of running soldiers filled his ears. The deadly asp had done its job. He paused to catch his breath, pressing his back against the palace walls. The last ruler of Egypt felled by a snake. His head shook in frustration, and then he hurried on to find the royal historian and give him the first piece of the royal treasure.”
The adventure of The Emerald Ring begins…
Exclusive sneak peek at chapter 1 for readers! ClickHere.
The South has awesome oak trees. Amid the branches you can often see moss, ferns, and other creeping plants growing. Government Street in Mobile, AL is lined with fabulous live oaks—their trunks and main branches support leafy green ferns and mosses. (Mental note: take picture next time I’m downtown.)
The past two years, one of the water oaks in our backyard has been home to a struggling fern of its own. We have plenty of moss/other fuzzy stuff on the different trees.
But, for some reason, the fern is magical to me. Maybe because it conjures images of faerie laden forests or a tropical getaway. Or the fact that the odds of a plant growing out of rough, tree bark is inspiring. If the fern can cling to life, then I can stick with my goals, right?
Whatever the meaning, I’ve made a goal of supporting the fern. Hopefully the plant, and my goals, will flourish when the summer heat arrives.
April is Autism Awareness Month and April 2 is World Autism Day. While not everyone in the autism community can agree on theories of cause, treatment, etc, I think everyone believes that knowledge and understanding is a good thing.
Education is a good thing, no matter if you are looking at the autism spectrum as in insider or outsider. Feel free to share links to sites, quotes, books, and other tidbits that have inspired and helped you and your loved ones. My previous thoughts on the topic can be found under the category “autism” in the tool bar on the right side of this page.
As noted earlier this month in my Three Confessions post, I had a messy book situation. The books were tidied up more than a week ago and here at the visuals to prove it. BEFORE:
AFTER: Do you see any of your favorites?
I do have a few more bookcases not pictured, but they are looking good as well. Some of the books are still in cabinets, but they are easier to see and find. What shape are your bookshelves in? Do you have any goals to fill, reduce or organize them?