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.