Discarded Passions

I used to draw and paint when I was younger, and have a ton of art supplies that I haven’t touched in years. I spent a lot of money on them, and had them packed away in a tackle box to keep them organized.

I’ve been writing for the last 16 years, and that’s the art that stuck with me. From an early age, even my art was about telling a story, so it makes sense that I eventually found my true passion in writing. Since thn I’ve also become a pilot, which is only the most awesome thing in the world.

So I figured I’d put away my art supplies in a box, and used that lovely tackle box for office supplies.

You know how when you pull out something you once loved, and suddenly you want to get into it again? I was thinking, I’m gona go through this stuff and suddenly I’m gonna want to draw or paint something again.

And I went through my art supplies and thought, “Shit man, I’m never gonna use any of this shit ever again.”

There was a distinct lack of nostalgic feelings. Nothing. Like the art thing was just something to do, something to justify my existence, something I did to please the people around me and get that pat on the head I so desperately needed. The more I think about it, the more I think that’s what it is. I was decently good at it, having practiced, and anything I was decently good at, I’d do it more because it got me positive attention. I don’t think I really differentiated between enjoying an activity and enjoying the attention I got for doing it.

It’s kind of a weird revelation. The stereotype is the young girl passionate about art, chasing her dream of being a professional artist, drawing and painting for the love of art. I was good at drawing, so I embraced the role. That’s a thing about Aspies – they imitate. I can’t even help it. At least now that I’m older, and I know I’m an Aspie and have that tendency, I can consciously pick and choose who to imitate, and what roles to embrace. Like my flight instructor – I can adopt her attitudes towards aviation safety, and aspire to one day fly as well as her.

But painting, it seems maybe there wasn’t the passion there that I thought there was. There was a lot of encouragement – way more than the encouragement I got when I took up flying. But with flying, the passion is there. It’s different. Writing too – I couldn’t stop writing, even if there was no hope of anyone ever wanting to give me money for it.

Anyway, I’m gonna go finish dumping my art supplies into a bin and see if my roomie wants any of it before I see about donating it to a school or something.

Advertisements

General Update Because I’ve Been Busy

Everything’s happening at once.

We’re moving, and it might be sooner than we’d planned, which is good, but stressful. Still, just as well to get things over with, if it’s going to happen. We found a place where we won’t have to hide the cats, and we just need to find out if we get approved, thanks to a friend who spotted the rental listing on facebook.

I’m putting off rewriting that one section of the commercial exam because there’s just too much going on right now to deal with it.

Women In Aviation Week: that happened, and it was big, exhausting day for this aspie. We had fifteen women interested in flying out at Lyncrest, though, with limited planes that had skis, we only managed to get a couple of them into the air. We had lots of time to chat though, which is cool, because my husband gets tired of listening to me talk about flying…

Four year old asks the tough questions: I was over at my critique partner’s house (she gets mad when I call her my BFF) and her nephew, who likes planes and has been told about me, asked “Are you really going to be a pilot?”

I said “I already am.” He seemed very confused. I assumed perhaps he didn’t understand what a pilot was, so I elaborated, “I fly a plane.”

He still looked confused, and finally he asked “If you have a plane, then why do you have a car?”

Valid question. I tried to explain that the roads weren’t really wide enough.

Writing: Been querying. There have been developments. I don’t see a lot of people talking about getting requests for full manuscripts, so I don’t know if that’s because it happens so infrequently, or if it’s because there’s some faux pas about saying when you’ve got an agent looking at your manuscript, but there have been developments. I am hopeful. Cross your fingers for me.

Like I said, everything’s happening at once.

The City

There’s an interesting cultural observation I’ve made since moving to Winnipeg. I never thought of myself as a “country girl”, but since moving to “The City” I’ve realized I really am.

My last boyfriend, before my husband, was in the military. He told me a story once about when he was on the road with some friends and they ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. They had a jerry can of gas in the trunk, but the jerry can didn’t have a funnel, so they couldn’t get the gas into the gas tank.

I said “Well did you have a newspaper or a magazine or something, that you could use as a funnel?”

He looked at me for a few seconds and then said “shush, you.”

My husband was in Boy Scouts and liked to remind me, “A Boy Scout is always prepared.”

We’ve been together long enough now that he’s stopped, because he knows my response is “Yes, but a country girl knows how to improvise.”

The phrase “The City” means different things to a lot of different people. What I’m talking about is Manitoba, though. If you talk to anyone who lives in Manitoba, outside of Winnipeg, if we say “The City”, we mean Winnipeg.

Part of this is a result of the bare fact that Winnipeg is the largest urban center for… a long ways. The nearest place bigger than Winnipeg, without crossing the border is Edmonton in one direction, and Toronto in the other, and each of those is nearly half a continent away. Gonna throw this link out there if anyone wants to verify this fact: http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/population.html

It’s something I never thought about growing up in Portage La Prairie, an hour’s drive away from Winnipeg. And I don’t think a lot of people think about that. But being a writer, it makes me think harder about how people think about things. Ant then it makes be think about how my own characters perception of things will differ from my own perception, or from other characters.

I think the reason I had a lot of trouble sympathizing with George R. R. Martin’s characters was that they were all lords and ladies and kings and queens. There were no characters that who’s roles I could see myself taking. I find in my own writing, I tend to write more characters who are small people – the “everyman” sort of character if you will. I think it’s because I don’t buy into the whole reality-show-about-how-difficult-rich-people’s-lives-are thing. I don’t have cable tv, and don’t miss it.

Actually I do, but I didn’t have it for about four years and didn’t miss it, and now that I do, I don’t watch it. (Netflix for evar!)

This post doesn’t really have a point or conclusion, it’s just something I’ve realized, and thought about. It’s a little bit about how people think about their own identity, an a little bit about my own identity. I mean, to people outside of Winnipeg, Winnipeg is practically a hick town. To me though, Regina is a hick town. (No, kidding, the last time I was there, all I remember is the teens wandering around with hickies on their necks. Not even joking.)

But the way I think about things is part of my own identity, and you have to remember, as a writer, that’s part of your characters’ identity. I’m a girl who grew up in, not a small town, but a small city. My dad was a bee farmer, and I spent tons of time out of doors, out in the country, wandering around in the bush, exploring abandoned buildings, building fires, building epic snow forts (that’s gonna take it’s own post) and playing with power tools at ages that people consider irresponsible of my parents.

The experiences a lot of people got from things like scouting, I got a lot of that just from tagging along with my dad. Things that a lot of “city people” hire someone to do, like cleaning the gutters, or shoveling off the roof, I wouldn’t think of hiring someone, I would do myself. I get my oil changed at the garage, not because I couldn’t do it myself, but because my dad gets it done there because they can do it more efficiently, and it’s less trouble. I’ve never done it, but I’m sure I could do it if I needed to. And it’s not a prissy rich white girl “pft, I could do it if I wanted to” – it’s a real, I know I could do it. I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty.

I’ve helped install magnetos, a voltmeter, a fuel gauge float, vacuum tubes, etc, on a plane I plane to fly myself. I’m basically staking my life on work I’ve done myself. No everyone trusts themselves that much. But that trust in myself, I will lay that with my dad. He might not have always been the most empathetic or emotionally supportive person, but he taught me things. Things to keep me safe. Things to make me feel confident walking into the world. Not specific things, but the phrase “come help me with this,” does something to a child.

For example, when my dad would shovel off the roof, he’d tie a rope around his waist and have us hold the opposite end. Us being my brother and I. We, at a very young age – I’m pretty sure under ten years old, were entrusted with making sure my dad didn’t fall off the roof, and if we couldn’t hold the rope, we were to get help. Around the same age, he brought me down to the spare room in the basement and told me, if he was ever working on the electricals, or dropped the hairdryer in the sink or something, and got electrocuted, here, flip this breaker, and it’ll shut down all the electricity in the house.

And sometimes I wonder if it’s that that made me the sort of person that, when something needs to be done, I go do it, or if it’s something inherent in myself. Something I was born with. I don’t know. I often assume everyone is as capable as me, and am surprised when I’m with others and

If someone had asked if I could learn how to install magnetos on a plane, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say yes. Not afraid of machines. My dad had a riding lawn mower, a mini front end loader, a garden tiller, etc. Dangerous machines that could have killed us. He built fires to burn rubbish and such, and let us play with them. We grew up old school, before they wrapped kids in cotton balls. Or at least, before the cotton reached the farmer’s kids in rural areas.

And realizing that makes me think. About what’s shaped me, and from there, what shapes characters. And why I tend to choose the characters I write about. They tend to be small characters, but capable. Not princes and princesses. Everyday, common people.

But it’s also why I write Dieselpunk. The machines. It’s familiar and comfortable.

Like I said, I have no point to make here, really. Just an observation and a couple of anecdotes.

Chocolate, Nuts, and Raisins: An Aspie Post

I haven’t posted much about being an Aspie. A friend heard me use the word, and asked about it, because she hadn’t been sure if it was a word that people with Aspergers considered insulting. If it is, I’ve never seen an Aspie who considered it so. I don’t know if it was Aspies themselves who started using it first, or the Neurotypical community, but the Aspie community has taken ownership of the term. Part of the reason, I’m sure, is the fact that Aspies are struggling for acceptance of what they are, and therefore aren’t sensitive about being recognized as having Asperger’s syndrome. You can’t gain acceptance for what you are if you’re ashamed of what you are.

But also, “Aspie” isn’t a word that’s used as a general insult. I think possibly by embracing the term and not reacting to it like it was an insult, the Aspie community has maintained control over it and the meaning it conveys. When it’s understood at all, it’s understood to mean “a person with Asperger’s syndrome” and hasn’t ended up gaining any extra negative connotations the way words like “retarded” (which was once a politically correct term) has collected.

Anyway, in this post, I’m going to kind of try and paint a picture of Aspergers syndrome for you. I’m not trying to show you how terrible it is, or how much I suffer, or what other people have to deal with to be my friend, or even paint a complete picture. Just a little bit of insight on the sort of things my friends notice when they get to know me really well.

I don’t like certain things mixed with other certain things. As a child, I would carefully separate the peas on my plate from the mashed potatoes. Foods dished out of different pots would not be on the fork at the same time. I didn’t like foods served at different temperatures to touch. For example, if salad was served on the same plate as cooked meat or vegetables, I didn’t like them touching. Salad is a bunch of things mixed, but they’re supposed to be mixed, so it’s fine. But I prefer not to get any salad dressing on anything it doesn’t belong on.

And honestly, it’s not about taste. It’s all about organization. And I’m not that bad – if things touch, I’m annoyed. But I’ll eat it. I generally re-separate them if it’s feasible, but it’s not the end of the world, and I generally don’t say anything. I’m not such a severe case as I would have some kind of crazy meltdown over stuff like this.

Nathan once made macaroni and cheese for me, and cooked frozen vegetables in it. He says he knew something was wrong as soon as he saw my face when he brought it out. It took me like, ten minutes to pick all the vegetables out and eat them, and then I ate the pasta. The friend I mentioned before was observing me putting blueberries an whipped cream on french toast she made me, and realized that I was arranging the blueberries in such a way that I could get a blueberry in every bite as I cut it into pieces later.

One day, my friend was commenting on how she hated chocolate covered raisins. I replied that I like them.

And she was like wait, what?

See, she knows me pretty well, and knows I don’t like chocolate with nuts or dried fruit in it. And I explained, chocolate covered raisins aren’t raisins in chocolate, they’re chocolate on raisins.

That’s the point where I think her head exploded.

It’s two things that are such different textures – one you suck on and one you chew, and then I don’t know how to eat them together. And they’re never evenly distributed through the chocolate. One bite might have two peanuts in it, and another one might not have any. So, if someone offers me a cadbury fruit and nut bar, or almond bark, or chocolate with candy cane in it, I’ll usually politely decline. Unless it’s one of those situations where refusal would upset someone, in which case I’ll take it, suck on it until the chocolate is gone, and then chew the rest. It’s not a huge deal.

Then there’s chocolate covered raisins. The chocolate on them is never so thick that it’s worth sucking it off, so it’s easy to chew them without having to suck the chocolate off. But most importantly, there’s a more or less even distribution of chocolate and raisin in each bite.

Now, keep in mind, I don’t normally consciously think about these things, even as I’m arranging my skittles in lines by colour. I just do it. I don’t freak out of suffer unduly if I’m prevented from doing it, it’s just a tendency. Kind of like how when you smile at someone, they tend to smile back. It’s not about Aspergers being a terrible thing I suffer from, and it’s not about me being better than other people because I have Aspergers. It’s just me.

The frustrating thing is that there are people out there who won’t accept this is me. They want me to be normal. It doesn’t matter that none of this hurts or even affects them. It makes them uncomfortable that I’m different. They see it, and when they see it, they think there’s something wrong with me that needs to be fixed. I’ve been called a retard by someone like that, who was just that frustrated that I couldn’t just be normal. Who made fun of me as he watched me eat a sandwich because I was spending more time than he thought I should deciding where to take the next bite. I’ll let the internet pass judgment.

Sure, I could refrain from doing it. Force myself to mix my vegetables with the potatoes. It’s not like it would cause me to have some kind of breakdown. But here’s the thing: why the hell should I? It would take a huge mental effort to constantly remind myself to not do those things, and I would slip up regularly. Why would I go to all that trouble just so that you can watch me and not notice that I’m a little bit quirky? Just so that I can pretend to be some silly ideal of normal, as if it would make me healthier or happier? It wouldn’t.

But it makes me more grateful for the people I have around me who do accept me. I don’t need people to put on an Aspie pride parade for me. I’m perfectly happy just being Lindsay, and being allowed to just be Lindsay and not be made fun of for being Lindsay. That’s all Aspies ask. Is it really so much?

My Painfully Shy/Attention Hog Split Personality

Last spring at Keycon, I had people I had never seen before come up to me and say Hi. They knew my name – knew me from my blog. It was a weird experience. I mean, that’s the point of the blog being public – getting attention, and getting attention from people interested in reading what I write when I get my novel published. I know there’s a certain amount of danger – there’s weirdos out there, but I figure if I plan on being a published author, I’m eventually going to have to bite it and have my picture associated with my name in public. I’ve drawn lines of course – I don’t put my home address or phone number out there, or even my email address – the contact me link on my site just has a form, and doesn’t give my email address. I stopped at giving my home city, and the airports I’ve flown out of, and what conventions/conferences I’ll be at. I’m not a paranoid person – I think I’m being reasonable.

It was just kind of different, to be recognized. And now that I think about it, kind of cool to have a male approaching me to say hi with interests other than hitting on me. It wasn’t just the blog at Keycon either, I did a few panels and it seems when you get up in front of a crowd, it changes how people treat you. You’re no longer a random face in the crowd, you’re the woman who discussed Dieselpunk intelligently on the Steampunk/Dieselpunk/Cyberpunk panel, and did the panel on flight, and was the organizer for the short film viewing. And then people talk to you.

I do fine in conversation mostly – when it’s answering questions about things, I’m fine. When I’m put on the spot to come up with something to say, like at the Women In Aviation gathering with the First to Solo award presentation, I freeze up. Deer in the headlights.

I’ve gotten over a lot of being painfully shy. I used to be so much worse. Though, I don’t actually remember being shy, so much as just knowing if I was the centre of attention, it was because I did something wrong, or stupid, or people were just picking on me for no reason at all. I was bullied as a child, and that always leaves scars.  When I’m put on the spot and am not prepared with something to say, then I’m suddenly afraid that whatever comes out of my mouth is going to be stupid, or come across horribly wrong.

Conversation – much easier. It distracts me from the attention and I can focus on the subject matter of the conversation. And yet, I love attention. Just not negative attention. I like having done something well, or made something I can show off, and being praised for it. I might be terribly nervous getting up to perform in front of an audience, but the applause at the end makes it so worth it.

I see-saw between being shy and being an attention whore. It came  on my again when I got to spending more time at Lyncrest, and C-FLUG, and Jill, and the other women involved in C-FLUG. Some of them were at the First to Solo award presentation and knew me from there. Some had seen my picture in articles, but it was again with the people coming up to me that I had never seen before, or if I had they were someone in a crowd, but they knew my name. And one day Jill commented about how wonderful it was that I was getting all my flight training down in my blog. I said I’m never sure if there’s anyone around home who reads it, and she said “Oh, we all do!” And then I was feeling all shy and bashful again.

It does sometimes feel safer to write about things when I’m not likely to ever meet the people who read what I’ve written. I love getting comments on the blog (I have a friend who has promised to troll my site, but has never actually done so. I’m disappointed.) But most comments are from people I haven’t met in person. Then at Keycon I met some of the people who’ve commented on my blog, and it was weird and cool. And now there’s people who know me from an entirely different circle. I don’t think I’m trying to make a point with this post. I’m just rambling an thinking thoughts.

And sometimes I do pour my heart out here, and I’ve never once had anyone leave a comment that made me regret it. I treat the thing like a journal, and the difference between a journal and a diary, is a journal is written for someone else to read at some point. I kept a diary for a few years, but it was hard to motivate myself to write anything that wasn’t intended to be read by someone else, either for entertainment or educational purposes.

But while I feel free to let myself be vulnerable here, there are certain things I hold back. Mainly anything that I think might embarrass people I care about, or who didn’t – you know – ask for it. This isn’t a platform for me to lash out or take revenge. It can sometimes be hard to avoid, because my writing is always influenced by my own experiences, and also, I do want to let others who have gone through the kind of things I have know that they’re not alone. So I’m torn sometimes, on how much to tell. But I’ll deal with those things as they come up. Negativity attracts negativity, and I want this to be a positive place.

New Year’s 2014

The Traditional New Years post. Lets start with last year’s goals and how I did:

– Get a good ways into revisions on another novel. This is going to be either Handless or The Box – I haven’t decided yet, but once I do, it’ll be a shit ton of work. – I did none of this. 

– Win Nano for 5th time running. – nope. 

– Reading goals: mixing it up this year – I want to read at least one debut novel within the year it was published (missed this one, by 8 days – Thunder road was published on sept 4 2012, and I finished reading it on sept 12 2013), at least one aurora eligible novel (Got this one), at least one novel written by an author I know in person (got this one), finish at least one series I started reading (likely the hunger games trilogy, I’m on the last one)(Finished the Hunger Games), and at least one classic novel (I think The Warlord of the Air qualifies.)

– I’ve decided what I want to be when I grow up. Which is good, because I’m twenty-nine and that time rolls around faster than you know. I’ve never been entirely happy with the tech support job, and there’s obviously a good chance that I may never be able to quit my day job completely. I need a day job that I have some passion for. Towards that, I resolve to start flight school. This will likely start in april, when my hours at work go down, and the integrated courses start at Harv’s Air. – The integrated courses didn’t work out, but that’s not a big deal, and didn’t stop me. Got my private licence in three months and am time building for my commercial. 

That last one is huge and has swallowed up everything else.

Anyway, I also get to give myself kudos for other things I’ve done this year. Mostly flying wise. There’s been a lot of firsts.

I started lessons – that in itself is a big step. Then there was my first solo, and then winning the first solo award. And getting my licence. Taking my first passenger flying, for his first time. Doing short little cross country flights, and building up to longer ones. Getting comfortable with being in Class C airspace. Taildragger checkout. Night rating. Being told I should go practice spins solo.

I became the legal owner of my first car. It’s a 93 Buick Le Sabre, originally owned by my grandfather, inherited by my grandmother, gifted to my father, and then gifted to me. Legally gifted to me. It’s coming out of my inheritance from my grandma, who’s 93 and still kickin’, but she wants to give us grandchildren the help we need when we need it most, and I’m living at the far end of every bus route right now, and there are no buses that will take me to St. Andrews to go flying, so I need a car right now. It gives her a lot of satisfaction to be able to be here to see the things she’s given her grandchildren put to use.

I also got a good ways into a new YA novel, called Skybound, and have ideas for books two and three in the trilogy (The Onesky Trilogy). And titles. Kickass titles, to be revealed as I write them.

My finished novel, recently renamed “Redwing”, is done the most recent round of revisions, and at Keycon an editor invited me to submit it, based on the opening page.

Also at Keycon, did some panels, got some attention, had people chasing me down to ask if I had anything published that they could buy, based on hearing me participate in a panel on dieselpunk.

Wrote a couple of short stories – though still working on selling them.

Overall, I’ve done pretty good, so I’m not going to beat myself up over not getting into revisions or winning Nano.

Also, I have succeeded in not killing myself or anyone else.

It’s been a good year. For a lot of it, I felt like I was running full tilt because if I stopped, the fates would notice I was happy. Because this is me, and Lindsay’s supposed to be happy with simple, small pleasures, and learning to fly is far too big to escape their notice. And as I kept going, I started to think if I just keep running, maybe fate won’t catch me. And eventually I got  to the point where I had it set in my mind that I was stronger than whatever had kept me from chasing my dreams in the past. And I started to realize what had kept me from it in the past was my own belief that I didn’t deserve to be happy. I’d internalized the many times my mother told me, “You don’t always get what you want.” (That line made it into Skybound.)

Every time I’ve ever really wanted something, I’ve had to fight for it. And I think I always knew this one would be a big fight, and maybe I was just waiting until I had the strength for it, because it was a fight that would break my heart to lose.

So this year’s goals (calling them goals, and not resolutions, because that sounds more positive – it’s about accomplishing things, not resolving to stop doing things):

– Reading goals: Read a novel eligible for the auroras and vote in them. Read a debut novel. Read an author I haven’t read before. Read another book in at least one series I started. Read a novel by an author I know in person.

– The usual: Stay happily married and not die.

– Get my commercial pilot’s license.

– Get my multi-IFR rating.

– Finish Skybound.

– Get a solid start on revising another novel.

Humble goals, I know. I think I succeeded in taking 2013, kicking it in the balls and beating it senseless until it cried. In 2014 I hope to start getting some career things straightened out, and of course I’m always hoping to hear back from agents. Wish me luck on soaring through 2014 safely.

Orson Scott Card And The Boycott On Enders Game

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about boycotting the new Ender’s Game movie. For those two of you out there who don’t know, Ender’s Game was written by Orson Scott Card, who also happens to be a raging homophobe who writes articles for anti-LGBT organizations’ publications as well as donating money to such hate groups.

I’m not going to see the movie. I’m not going to trash anyone for going to see the movie, but I’m not.

There’s a lot of people saying that we should separate the artist from the art. I don’t believe that’s justified at all. I think an artist is a businessman like anyone else who creates a product, and any artist who think’s they’re not is full of pretentious bullshit. It’s silly to think that the profession of art is just so special somehow, that artists are above judgment from their customers. It makes just as much sense to boycott an artist for bigotry as is does to boycott the convenience store down the street with a sign saying “no homosexuals allowed.”

And sure, there’s the fact that he’s probably already received whatever money he’s going to get for the movie, so what’s the point in boycotting, if it’s not going to affect him financially, or affect any money he sends to hate groups?

It’s not about the money though. The boycott is symbolic. It doesn’t matter how the studio tries to separate themselves from the author and the author’s views. It does matter that the producers are trying to separate themselves, and holding a fundraiser for LGBT rights charities – that’s great, but it doesn’t separate the movie from Card. No matter what they do, the movie is linked with a man who hates homosexuality and thinks it should be illegal, and we (those boycotting the movie) feel a need to say that’s not okay. The boycott is our way to say that in as loud a way possible.