Respite

I wrote this a while ago and didn’t post it because I wanted to post less about the book, ’cause 1) it’s not interesting to talk about and 2) it’s not available yet even as a beta read. (Hoping to get most of the editing I need done pretty quickly now that I have a computer and a real keyboard.) But then I realized it wasn’t really about the book. So… here it is. Call it about a month old.

So, general status: Things have settled at new job, I’m much more comfortable, and even have enough spare brainspace for creative work. Yay! But I still don’t have a computer (and I don’t have a work-issued laptop, either, like at my old assignment–boo), so I’m hand-writing the sequel to my last one in fits and starts because damn that’s a hard way to write things (because I can’t really edit the first book until… well, I type the rest of the hand written parts into the computer.) (Note from the future: That part’s done, at least!)

But anyway, something’s been sticking in my head, and it’s probably something completely unimportant, but I’ll lay it out to you in the hopes that it makes both my issue and what the solution is (or if it’s needed at all) more clear.

In my hero’s backstory–which I have him relate to another character while drinking, and stressing about the concept of whether he can actually ever be capable of raising a family–involves what I suspect is a fairly obscure point of New York State’s Early Intervention program called Respite. Which basically means you can call the state and say that you just need a few days to get yourself back together, could you take the kid for that time?

(Side note: It’s a trap. Do not do not DO NOT use it if you actually want them to return the child(ren).)

So the keystone of my hero’s backstory is that, at about twelve, his parents invoked this program and just… never returned ,functionally vanishing off the face of the earth and abandoning him.

And all of this felt pretty true–that’s one of the really cool things about the book, that stuff just popped out of the ether at me and fit in like frickin’ puzzle pieces and it felt so real while I was inside of it. But… there’s a particular catch about this particular backstory that has been giving me pause about how to approach it basically since I first wrote it.

As a program, Respite is only available if your child is disabled.

Now, I have no problem at all believing Michael has a diagnosis or three. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the mental health system, my family has spent a lot of time in the mental health system–and when you’re Not Quite Right (and Michael is notably Not Quite Right), one of the inescapable parts (short of foregoing basically any external aid at all) is the endless string of contradictory, at times palpably arbitrary diagnoses. (And bipolar is going to be one of them, basically regardless of why you came in.) Diagnosis? I’ll bet he has five.

But… but. The part that’s messing with me a little is… should I actually assign him a real one, and try to match his behavior to his symptoms?

Pro: Perception of consistency, an angle to appeal to people (representation woo), and the fact is that usually diagnoses exist because people act more-or-less in that way.

Con: Given my own experiences, and the fact that the conga-line of incredibly stupid labels is totally a thing, the fact is that I don’t trust any of the DSMs that we have to accurately describe basically any human behavior.

But back to in favor… if I don’t give him a specific diagnosis, at least in my head, does that mean I’m being disrespectful of the disabled by having him diagnosed with things that I don’t actually intend for him to have?

Yeah, I think my final answer is screw it.

I mean, particularly since the whole book is about square pegs who’ve been doing really stupid things in order to try to carve themselves a square hole, and having their need of the same be continually ignored or used against them… it seems like the well-ordered holes of mental illness or disability is afine other place to have themselves and their needs just completely and totally insufficient or incorreclty address.

(Not that this would match my own experiences or anything like that. Heavens no.)

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A List of Subjects

During my mostly-absence, one of the things I realized is that I really suck at off-the-cuff blogging.

I’d throw something up occasionally, but it’s all this… meandering blather about whatever happened to be going on, expressed in the most deadpan way possible. Fact: Should have known this. It’s how I’ve always done most of my interactions. I kind of have to intentionally try to do otherwise.

So. Without someone else to bounce off of–taking interest in whatever they’re talking about and kind of deflecting away from yourself and your boring-ass topics–I’m going to have to make a few shortcuts. In short, evergreen topics that I can dig into when I don’t know what to dig into.

And… hey, that sounds like a post all its own, right? Maybe it can help you make your own blog list.

Overall, it seems like there’s four easy broad categories: Personal, Professional, Political and Fun.

Of these, personal is most likely to fall off the edge into the boring train. But! I love reading personal-style blogs! (Assumably, I’m reading ones from the folks who put a lot of work into being good at it.) So I know it isn’t boring off the cuff, and maybe I can use that to come up with good angles, like…

  • History with the foster care system, and knock-on impacts later in life. This one’s a little dangerous, since it requires a fair amount of soul bearing, saying unkind things about others, and honestly, I was too young to remember most of my time in the system. But nonetheless, given that my whole family was obviously involved, there’s a lot of impact and material to go through… and, well, I figure it’s something not everybody has done.
  • Cute baby stories and pictures. Yeah, lots of people have babies. But I basically can’t get enough of kid stories and pictures (particularly from homeschooling sites), and figure that I’m not the only one. Side note is that the common advice is not to put pictures of your kids online, but… on the other hand, I really adore blogs that ignore that advice.
  • Sexy stories, particularly the ones that involve my more fringe interests. The danger zone here is right up front, and different from the other categories: There’s pretty much no emotional risk in this one. (And I do like creeping around on blogs with massive amounts of oversharing of this type.) But on the other hand, it’s not widely appropriate, likely to alienate folks who might like the other aspects, and attract trolls.

Then there’s  professional. This one comes with a built-in audience–other people in the field–and some structure to go along with it. If I wind up doing any regular features, they’re likely to be in this category. On the other hand, they obviously require more time, given that I’m not just pulling out of my brain. (For the record, my professions have been paralegal, low-level back-end office data entry person, waitress.) So, likely topics are…

  • Aspie in the Workplace: Successes, failures, and general tips I’ve learned trying to survive in an office (and a restaurant and a call center and…) This one’s pretty straightforward, but will unavoidably make me look like a pretty awful worker. (And, ugh, using my real name, even if it isn’t the one I currently use.)
  • Law geekery. (I mean, heck, it’s in my blog title and everything.) That was, as you can imagine, a big part of the initial concept. Downside? I really don’t have the time I once did to go through court decisions and stuff, and the law library is closed whenever I’m out of work. Basically, I don’t have the chops or topical knowledge I used to. (That said, that wouldn’t matter at all for the concept I had, to illustrate basic legal terms with a single-panel comic once a week. But that’s time-consuming, too. Particularly with the daughter wanting to draw all over anything I start drawing.)
  • I… may know an unlicensed electrician/plumber and shade tree mechanic, who might get up to interesting exploits helping out in a handyman fashion in the local immigrant community. But if I did, I’m not sure it would be even remotely a good idea to blog about things so flagrantly illegal. Even if I’m sure he’d have interesting stories. I mean, hell, I’m sure there’s a lot of interesting stories about growing weed, but you’d have to be dumb to blog about them.

Political… I’ve got a lot of political opinions. But I have trouble discussing them even with friends. I had a political comic for a while, and I was really excited about it–but it dragged me down. I don’t think I want to do much political blogging.

Fun includes art, entertainment, fandom, random videos on the internet, et cetera. My old habit of including a sketch in every post falls way under this. (I don’t know if my situation is ever going to allow for that as well as it used to again.) Really, this sort of thing is the life-blood of the internet. Downside? I’m not actually that interested in being the hub of shareable things; it doesn’t seem like it’d suit my strengths, and content curation seems like it’d take a lot more time than first glance might indicate. But hey. I do need to share more art. Or make fun things with my husband’s tools. (He’s got a plasma cutter. And a sand blaster. And a welder. And a mill and a lathe. I’m not very good with any of them yet, but I am rather enamored with the idea of making metal art.)

So… yeah. That’s my content list. Let’s see if it helps me make better content!

I’ve got it!

I’m writing this post from my new-to-me refurbished desktop, which I’ve tentatively named Mina.

So, y’know. I can hopefully do writing and editing and blog posts and stuff for real now.

Not now, though. The baby was very, very cute tonight… which has me feeling exhausted.

Plus I wanna see how Minecraft plays on this. 😀

Computer!!!!

My husband bought me a computer. It’s arriving Friday-ish.

So goodness willing, things get easier then!

In the meantime, I participated in SketchFest this past weekend. Check out everyone’s artwork: https://www.ellenmilliongraphics.com/sketchfest/sketchfestgallery.php?date=93

How to actually make it

I’ve been reading my writing, and fairly pleased–it doesn’t pop at all for the first several scenes, and the whole first half reads like a stick figure: minimal events and detail to move forward. (I’m still only halfway through, but it’s starting to fill out.) But I can see what’s missing, and I can see a real story on the other side, an appealing one.

Problem: it’s being very hard to make the bits even if I can see them. But I’ll find a way.

Also, my first draft fight scenes are mo great shakes, but not near as awful as I had feared. I’ll take it.

On the thing

*phew* Finished typing the rest of the manuscript into the document. (Seriously, the last fifth or so was scattered between paper notebooks and various emails to my husband.) There’s several bits that are written multiple times in different ways, but I’m pretty sure I can work that out.

(I’m actually going to be able to keep way more of the final fight scene than I realized. May that be true of several other scenes that I thought were going to have to be fully scrapped.)

So, that’s a weight off of my shoulders. Next step, well. I guess it’s to read it. Do my first-pass edit. Then get betas. (My friend from DC already volunteered, so that’s fun.)

And… I’ve used up what I suspect is most of the daughter’s nap. But I’m going to go see how much nap I can get for myself.

Gaming

I haven’t been gaming in a few years, which is a pity–I’d been in a Shadowrun game with some friends from Northern Virginia, all of us over Google Hangouts, that was absolutely epic… but took the GM a massive amount of time that just wasn’t available anymore after there was a certain security scandal with his employer.

I wasn’t going to talk about it, because I figured gaming stories would require way too much context… but I think I’ve got one that would fit pretty well.

My boyfriend (now husband)’s character had a Secret. While everyone thought he was this moderately-psychotic guy in platonic love with his grenade launcher, he was actually the McGuffin at the middle of our entire campaign–a dryad on the run from the Elven Mafia after stealing and reselling a cloak that was way more important than she had any reason to know.

(Hence the passing as a human male. There’s this cool trick called Man of 1000 Faces that’s hard to get but really abusable.)

None of the other players or characters know this; I pretty much only know it because I’m his wife. (And at some point I finaegle my character into knowing it, too.) All they know is that Algothel–a common elfish female name, and that’s the *only* piece of information they have–is at the center of some kind of worldwide conspiracy, and that everyone in the world seeking great power is trying to find her.

And the GM keeps trying to pass hints–keeps coming up with circumstances where she can’t effect her glamour (but “Ima Pseudonym”‘s armor includes a full-coverage motorcycle helmet, and no one questions why his voice is higher), hinting that Algothel might be in the group, having an NPC stare straight at him and say “Algothel, this isn’t over”…

But my favorite was when… well. My and my husband’s characters were off in a meeting with a powerful NPC to make connections and tell him the dealio, full-disclosure, “I’m the powerful elf-girl you’re looking for, please protect me.”

A monster attacks the rest of the group while we’re there.

Now, our meeting happened privately with the GM; all the players know is that, though we’re sitting there watching the game during the fight, our characters aren’t there to help.

They’re victorious. But they’re curious. When the characters connect again, someone asks, “So, um. Do we go over what those guys were doing? Or do we just move on?”

We’re screwed, SO screwed, the jig is up. Obviously, this is where anyone sane, with all the secrets flying around, would go, “Yeah, Ima, Benny, what were you guys up to while we were fighting this demon horse thing?”

And we look at each other, and I say the only thing that comes to mind: “Well, I’d find it more interesting to just move on.”

And it worked.

Seriously, they shrugged and moved on. And they never found out, either. Or rather, they found out, in the last session, which was the only time we’d been able to get together for a month and a half and it was obvious everyone was just too busy to keep coming, in a circumstance specifically staged so we could end the game without having failed to reveal the Algothel secret.

(…yeah. I did rub this instance in when all was finally revealed.)

 

I miss my game. I don’t think I could do another right now anyway–I’ve got way too much stuff to do without it. But… *sigh* I miss it.