Secrets of increasing writing output: goal 100

This kitten's name is Little Stranger since his birth mother abandoned him and he was raised by another mother cat who had 5 tortoiseshell kittens (all girls). Little Stranger is now a grown up tomcat.

Little Stranger

My poetry is stored by files based on the year the poem was written. Currently that means both a physical file with paper and a file on a Scrivener project. Recently I was sorting through and organizing my 2015 poems. I decided to add a page with a list of all the poems in the file to simplify searching for a given poem. And so I discovered I wrote 37 poems last year.

That’s not a lot— but it is a good output compared to some years. My problem is my Aspie disorganization. Some days, weeks and months I write poems regularly— and then I get distracted by the many other goals and don’t write poems at all.

Recently I read a book called The Miracle Morning for Writers and was inspired to put together a morning ritual which includes certain activities (like exercise on my elliptical) and leads to a session of writing. This seems to be working if only I can keep it up.

So I’m setting a goal for my poetry writing this year. I want to make it to one hundred poems this year. I currently have only 16— but this morning I wrote three. OK, one was a senryu (haiku) that I’ve already tweeted under #2Apoems (Second Amendment poems), but I got it done.

How does your writing output look? If you feel you are not getting enough done, here are some things to help you do more.

  • Monitor your output. Make a chart or a list or something to make it easier to see how many writing projects — poems, short stories, novels— you have finished each week, month or year.
  • Set a reasonable goal for yourself this year— something that’s a challenge for you, but not something you feel is impossible, like writing 20 novels in a year when you have never finished even one.
  • Don’t just beat yourself up for the times you haven’t finished enough writing projects. Praise yourself for the times when you’ve done a lot. Perhaps set up an awards system— when you have finished 10 poems or three short stories, you can buy yourself a new ebook. Or chocolate. Or go to a movie.
  • Think about your work habits. When do you write? What triggers a writing session? If you only write when you feel like it, what things/circumstances tend to make you feel like it?
  • If finishing things is a major problem as it is for a lot of people with Asperger’s/autism, try shorter projects— poems, flash fiction, short stories. Things you can finish.
  • Create a ritual for a daily writing session, ideally in the morning, connected to your daily habits. For example, you might decide that right after breakfast you will sit down and work on your writing until you have finished one poem, or 2 haiku, or one work of flash fiction.

IWSG: Novels as Patchwork Quilts

bhg-under-stars-quilt-planIt’s that time! The Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop is today! It’s not too late to sign up, post your IWSG post, and visit blogs, comment, and get a bunch of new visitors to your blog. Remember, the heart of a blog hop is to visit loads of blogs!

Announcing a brand-new blog hop

I’ve started a sci-fi and fantasy themed blog hop called These Are The Voyages. Can you guess where I got the name? If you love sci-fi and fantasy enough to be willing to blog about it once a month, join up! (Sorry, erotica/’erotic romance’ and other family-unfriendly blogs can’t participate in order to allow young people and people’s grandmothers to participate.)


IWSG: Writing a novel is like making a patchwork quilt

Perhaps it’s using the writing software ‘Scrivener’ (and before that, YWriter, which is free), but my writing is more based in scenes now. Or at least, that’s how I think of my work.

Each scene is like a single patch in a patchwork quilt. Each patch in a quilt has to be properly crafted according to the quilt design being used. Each piece has to be cut to the right size, and sewn together with other pieces to make up the patch.

A single patch doesn’t have to be stunningly gorgeous all by itself. It it is only made properly and to the right pattern, once you sew it into the large quilt, you will have something beautiful. But some of the patches in some quilt designs are rather plain. They just serve their own purpose in the design of the quilt as a whole.

One cause of insecurity in writers is the sheer size of the novel (or the novella, for that matter). You can’t hold it all in your head at once. But you can hold one ‘patch’ of your novel— a single scene— in your head.

Possibly because I have Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder), I tend to work on several scenes at once. Right now, working on Expedition to Erileth, I have one scene in which Space Force officer Niko Alden, awaking from stasis, imagines he’d been put in stasis as a punishment, that his homosexual affair with a man suspected of being an enemy agent has been discovered. Another scene details the journey of young Prince Tsirdan into exile, and his stop to see a mushroom-house, a living dwelling made from a giant mushroom-tree. Another scene shows Niko Alden, now aware that he’s still an interplanetary hero, coping with a less-than-ideal landing on the planet Erileth which has killed some ship’s officers and injured the captain, leaving him in charge of setting up the new base and spaceport.

What I do is I work on a scene for a while, then shift to another. If I’m discouraged by one scene and feel like it’s dreck (pardon my Yiddish), then I just work on some other scene for a while.

Come to think of it, I quilt and sew like that too. I’ll work on one patch or piece of a project, then move on to another piece, and then later finish off the first. (It’s an Aspie thing. Neurotypicals wouldn’t understand— unless they are scatterbrained neurotypicals.)


Where the Opium Cactus Grows

I was checking up on my self-published poetry book today. It has still sold only the 8 copies, but on there is one used copy available at $29.46. The list price on the book is $6.98, and I bet that seller plans to BUY a copy at that price if he happens to sell one.

I really wish some more people would buy the book. It would make a great gift for your dentist. He could put it in his waiting room. I mean, the book is POETRY, but it’s less painful than root canal. And it’s got explosions in it.

Asperger Syndrome and Blog Commenting Anxiety

IM001173As a person with Asperger Syndrome my blog is my safe place in the wilds of the internet. I can post what I like, and if people want to bully me, harass me or insult me in the comments section, I just won’t approve their comments.

But I want my blog to be read. And so I participate in blog hops, which requires me to do something scary— comment on the blogs of strangers.

My Asperger Syndrome makes it very difficult to initiate contact with other human beings. I have a deep-seated fear I will just annoy them. My life experiences have shown me that no one is eager to be my friend, or even to communicate with me when it’s in their interest to do so. And commenting on a strange blog is a form of initiating contact.

Initiating contact is so much harder when you are afraid everyone will respond with hostility or indifference because you are a weird Aspie and don’t function like normal people. The tendency is to withdraw from others so you won’t be hurt any more. But I have to force myself to take the risk because I want the blog to succeed.

Before yesterday’s IWSG blog hop, I had been trying to comment on 3 blogs a day— often blogs I knew already. Yesterday, I made a total of 17 comments, nearly all on blogs I’ve never seen before.

The interesting thing is this— when you are making mass numbers of blog comments, it’s a bit easier than when you are only doing a tiny number. So I’m planning to continue down the IWSG list today, and make 10-12 comments today.

Will any of the people whose blogs I comment on rush out to read my blog? Probably not. But some may come to comment once in return. And in the technological magic that is the internet, perhaps that raises my blog’s profile. I don’t know.

My goal is to find some people who enjoy reading the sort of things I write about. Is that possible when I’m a weird Aspie who doesn’t write like a normal person? I don’t know. But maybe someone will come here for the kitten pictures and get hooked.

Like this blog? Visit my Facebook page:

Question: Do you find commenting on new blogs easy or stressful? How many blogs do you comment on during a typical day? How many blogs do you think you SHOULD comment on?


“People with Asperger Syndrome lack Creativity”

Katniss as a baby kitten.

Katniss as a baby kitten.

Some time ago an expert with power over my life announced to me that as a person with an autism spectrum disorder I could not possibly be creative.  Since this expert ALSO seemed to conclude that I did not have Asperger Syndrome during my childhood but somehow acquired it later, making me ineligible for certain benefits, I tended not to believe him.

After all, people like Vincent van Gogh, Herman Melville and Emily Dickenson are suspected of having Asperger Syndrome. They weren’t exactly uncreative, talentless hacks.

But once the poisonous idea has infiltrated my mind it becomes fuel for doubt. Maybe all my writing ideas, stories, poems are all flat and lacking in creativity. Maybe no one will ever tell me because everyone somehow detects my inferior Aspie status and lies to me out of pity.

Take a story idea I’ve been working on, that I call ‘Jane Eyre in Space’ because the early history of the main character, Hana Kelly, is similar to that of Jane Eyre. And the story takes place on another planet, a colony of the Terran Empire, sometime in the future.

Well, using Jane Eyre as a model proves I’m not original, since if I were really creative as only neurotypical people can be I wouldn’t need to use another book as a model for part of my story.

And setting stories on other planets isn’t original, it’s been done to death. And every single one of the little ideas I’ve had that make this story different— well, I had to come up with the ideas from somewhere. Something inspired them. So I just uncreatively take ideas from other places and that’s all there is to my fake claims of creativity.

But no matter how much that kind of self-doubt hammers through me, I know from my reading of writing books that other writers— REAL writers, neurotypical writers— do the same thing as I do. They get their story ideas from someplace. Think of Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series, which essentially retells fairy tales as fantasy romances in Edwardian England.

In fact, if the majority of our story ideas were not taken from other, familiar sources, the reader would find them too unfamiliar and bizarre to make for a comprehensible read.

So: I am Aspie, I am writer. If I can do as well as those other uncreative, defective Aspies like Herman Melville, I’ll be happy with it.

Writing an Author Bio: Oh, the Horror!!!


My Official Author Photo

I’m about to submit some poems to a publisher for the first time in years— this particular publisher, I submitted poems to about 24 years ago. And now that I’m submitting again, for some markets I need to have an official Author Bio. And, well, I’m working on it.

The author bio from the back of my book ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows’ was the first place I looked. I corrected it from first person to third:

Nissa Annakindt is a crazy cat lady from the state of Upper Michigan. Want a kitten? No, you can’t have that one. No, not that one either. And don’t even think about that one there— the one that hisses and bites everybody. That’s Nissa’s favorite.

Nissa’s hobbies are world domination, Doctor Who fandom, having an autism spectrum disorder (guess which one?), and collecting organized crime ties.

This is what I had on the back cover of ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows’ as an author bio. It needs work, I’m thinking of replacing ‘Doctor Who fandom’ with ‘zombie hunting’. By ‘collecting organized crime ties’ I’m referring to neckties, which I can’t actually afford to collect.

I then read up on writing author bios and came up with some good advice even though one is from (gasp!) Huffington Press:

Ten Tips on How to Write an Author Bio

Writing an Author Bio

How to Write an Author Bio when You Don’t Feel Like an Author…. Yet

Armed with the information in these articles, my computer, and my new purple Uzi (just in case), I came up with my Version 2 author bio:

Nissa Annakindt is a published poet, impoverished sheep farmer, and person with an autism spectrum disorder. Her poems were first published in ‘Struggle: A Magazine of Proletarian Revolutionary Literature’ in the Winter 1989/90 issue and her work has appeared since in ‘Social Anarchism’, ‘HEATHENzine’ and a fair number of outhouse walls. She lives on the land— well, on a house on the land— in Menominee county, in the state of Upper Michigan, USA, with her 35 or so barn cats— Umberto, Consubstantial, Scylla, Charybdis…. and her pet turkey Imelda.

This one is slightly more informative though it keeps up the weird-and-quirky author persona I’m going for. I don’t really like the phrase ‘person with an autism spectrum disorder’ but just putting ‘autistic’ would lead people to believe I had low-functioning autism and overcame that which isn’t true. I would have put ‘Asperger Syndrome’ but that’s been abolished by the government I think. (I want to include that factor because of the weird-and-quirky thing, and also because it gives me credit as a ‘minority’— disabled person— with the kind of people to whom that is important.)

For cases where I need an Even More Serious short bio, here is the stripped down and boring-ized version of the above:

Nissa Annakindt is a published poet and person with an autism spectrum disorder who lives on a small farm in Upper Michigan, USA. Since 1989 her poems have been published in various magazines including ‘Above the Bridge’ and ‘Struggle: A Magazine of Proletarian Revolutionary Literature’. She has cats.

Anyway, I’d appreciate any advice on my new bio, which I shall likely ignore in favor of including more weird cat names.

A is for Asperger Syndrome

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cBlogging from A to Z April Challenge

I’ve decided to go for the A to Z challenge this year, already I’m doing my first post LATE. I didn’t realize I’d actually signed up until this morning when I checked my email.

So — here goes: my topic for today is about my most favorite hobby, having Asperger Syndrome. It is THE cool disability for smart weird people. And I am a smart person. My IQ, for whatever that really means, is high enough for me to join the high IQ organization Mensa, if I wanted to do that sort of thing.

But because of the oddness fact of having Asperger Syndrome, I have sometimes been regarded as being mentally retarded. Now, there is nothing wrong with being a person with mental retardation, there are many excellent and worthwhile people with that condition. But it’s not the condition I’m struggling with, and it’s annoying.

The good thing about being an aspie is the Special Interests. The ones currently affecting me right now are: the garklein recorder, playing Civilization IV, baking bread, and re-reading everything Mercedes Lackey ever wrote.

I’m sad to say they’ve found a cure for Asperger Syndrome— they’ve renamed it Autism Spectrum Disorder. I wonder if the new disorder will be any different.

Asperger Syndrome: Being Invisible in Church

aspergerWhen you have Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum ‘disorder’), you can not only count on regularly being bullied and mocked, you also find that in church where you get a bit of a break from the bullying, you are invisible.

I went to Mass today, and no one talked to me. I waited around in the foyer to give people a proper chance, but still— invisible. Now, you might say I go to the wrong kind of church if I want people to talk to me and offer even ME Christian fellowship. But I don’t choose my church for social reasons but for correct doctrine.

And even when I went to more outgoing churches in the past (Lutheran, Baptist, Evangelical, LDS, and Christian Science) it wasn’t much different. Oh, people said words to me, but they were exclusively the polite nothings people say in church to people they don’t know and are not really trying to know. Sometimes folks would try to evangelize me because I was new, but after they were sure I was properly saved— invisible.

It hurts my heart to go to God’s House as one of God’s children and find that because of my Asperger Syndrome, the whole Christian fellowship thing is marked ‘not for me’.  Sometimes I feel like standing up on a pew and screaming ‘I’m here! I’m human! I’m a child of God! Won’t anyone offer me a little love and kindness!’

Only of course I’d never do that and so no one knows that I go through the motions in church and I’m really dying inside because I’m alone and have no real-world friends and never have a conversation with a human being other than my mom and my therapist.

It’s not easy being a friend to a person with Asperger Syndrome. People talk to me and I guess I send off ‘don’t bother me, go away’ vibes when what I mean to send off is ‘I’m so desperate for the tiniest hint of friendship I will let you boss me around’ vibes. And even when people say things like ‘call me anytime’ I don’t do it because I don’t know when an ‘anytime’ will come along when I’m not bothering them.

I guess what I’m really dreaming of is that someone will come along and decide to be my friend whether I like it or not, and invite me to their house and not take the first 7 ‘no’ answers seriously and call me and talk to me even when I sound grumpy and not notice that I’m too poor to reciprocate their kindnesses to me. I know that will never happen, but that’s what I hope for because I know there are some good Christian people out there who do things like that, and many more who WOULD if only they knew how much some people around them needed it.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Douay-Rheims Bible

It is better therefore that two should be together, than one: for they have the advantage of their society:

  If one fall he shall be supported by the other: woe to him that is alone, for when he falleth, he hath none to lift him up.

Hebrews 13:5 DRB

…for He hath said: I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee.

Can Writers with Aspergers write Likeable Fiction?

aspergerThe most stereotypical concern of writers with Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) is that we can’t write social interactions because we aren’t good at them. But I’m not going to write about that today.

Instead, let’s look at the likeability factor. Aspies tend to go through life pretty well friendless, or having people we call ‘best friends’ who call us acquaintances at best. It’s because we don’t make eye contact properly, or we send off non-verbal vibes that we aren’t interested in friendship when actually we are, or we make mistakes and say something tactless.

But if we ourselves are perceived by others as unlikable, won’t our fiction be unlikeable too?

Well, all I can say is ‘I hope not’. But writing fiction is a different animal than winning personal friendships. Once you have a book out there that has been accepted as a standard, normal novel by a publisher (or by a community of readers, for indie writers), your book gets judged on what’s inside it.

As Aspies there may be something ‘missing’ in our writing because of our condition, but there is something added as well— an intensity due to our Special Interests. If we use our Special Interests carefully in our fiction, and don’t overdue it, we bring a passion to our writing that neurotypicals may lack.

An example of a probably Aspie who became well-regarded as a writer is Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick. I loved that book as a teen— probably because I read it on my own instead of having it forced on me in school. He gave a lot of detail on life on a whaling ship— I detect Special Interest there— and that added to the appeal of the book as a whole, at least for me.

So I think we Aspies can write fiction readers will like. We just have to get out there and get trying.