Okay, so I have decided to become a magical unicorn — with 11 days to go before NaNoWriMo begins, I changed my project.
Prior to this move, I had been suggesting to myself that I really should start on Volume 3, since my intention is to have the revisions of Volume 2 complete before November 1st.
However, we are rapidly approaching the wire, and I was not feeling it.
In the last couple of months, I have worked so hard on Volume 2 that I just didn’t want to turn into a melted puddle of disgruntled, worn out, second-guessing sequel-writing author.
This would be a very bad thing to have happen during NaNo.
My brain needs a break from focusing on a “pretty serious” novel. So I’m going to give it said break.
Instead of Volume 3, my NaNo project will be a more fun (in theory), more easygoing (hopefully), less-this-could-make-or-break-my-career novel.
I’ll be attempting a contemporary that’s part autobiography, part fiction, all about living with autism.
My working title is “How To Be A Savage.”
This comes from the fact that White Fang says hilarious things at least 17 times a week, and one of his favorite remarks lately (when he does something like eat fork food with his fingers, or kills another player in a PvP video game) is, “I’m being a savage.”
The other major reasons I’m trying this out are as follows:
There is not enough accurate and realistic — and simultaneously compassionate — representation of autism in current fiction. It took the medical community itself long enough to understand ASD better, and now the public is taking too damn long (in my view) to catch up. We’re still too often seen as a textbook of socially dangerous symptoms, rather than as real people with a neurological condition that simply makes us different from the norm.
None of this is good. I’ve been marginalized my whole life, and I want so much better for my son. In writing a novel from a first person ASD POV, my hope is to raise not only understanding but also tolerance.
So, what does this mean for my usual style of writing? Well, setting the story in the real world — super scary, by the way — will certainly be a departure from what I’ve been concentrating on for years. No magic, no fantasy-is-actually-fact. (Though there will still be plenty of geek references; that’s never changing.)
Despite having a general premise and the bare bones of a basic outline, most of it will be coming to fruition on the page, at the moment that I sit down to type it out.
This is rather different, as I like to plot ahead of time. Does this give me nightmares? No…but I am a little nervous. Winging it is not something I usually do.
It will also feel very memoir-ish, and may be pretty damn hard for me to write at times. In relating what it’s like to live with autism to people who may have absolutely no idea what this entails, I’ll have to be brutally honest and forthcoming. Trying to explain neurodiverse pathways, physical issues, emotional difficulties, social challenges, and the choice whether to take meds or not — all in a first person narrative — will be extremely personal.
While I don’t believe writers should always write what they know, there are instances where firsthand experience is the best for showing the perspective an outsider probably would (not even intentionally) get wrong.
So, while I am nervous, I am also excited.
For those of you who may be unused to the idea of me writing something other than fantasy — relax, I’m sure it’s a passing phase.
For those of you who like to see authors try an idea outside of their norm — I hope this hits all the right notes.
There has been a lot of support for this announcement on Twitter, and I greatly appreciate that.
We’ll see what the next few weeks bring!
If you’d like to follow my updates on Twitter, check out my account referenced in the sidebar.
You can also follow my book reviews or the blog on Goodreads! If you look up “Daley Downing” as an author, or search for “Masters and Beginners,” you should come across me!
And if you’re also participating in NaNo and would like to add me to your buddy list, I am found there as The Invisible Moth (imagine that).