…And now for a FAQ post.

“Why so many ‘Writing Glitch’ posts about science lately, Weaver?”

Because that’s what I found the last time I went to Pinterest and “raided” a few boards for examples. (One of my own boards on Pinterest is titled “Science for Fiction Writers” — things I think may be of use to authors who need a bit of scientific accuracy in their “calculated lies” or who are just looking for cool science ideas to base stories on — so I follow several science boards there to find new material. This means I sometimes see science-themed memes that are… wonky.)

Besides, I specialize in editing science fiction, which means yes, I do know a thing or two about science as well as about fiction.

“But didn’t you say your university degree is in art, not science?”

If you think that’s a problem, why are you taking my advice about grammar? I don’t have a degree in that, either.

I’ll repeat it once more (“louder for the people in the back,” as it were): There is no rule of psychology, neurology, real common sense, or anything else that says people can have knowledge only of things they studied formally in school. There is no rule that says a person who’s really good in one field cannot also have fairly high competence in another that isn’t even related to the first. (First screen-fiction quote that comes to mind: “What kind of archaeologist carries a gun?”) If this is too outside your usual worldview for you to be comfortable with, think of some people as having “specialized” in being generalists.

“But aren’t you, y’know… on the spectrum? You have Autism Spectrum Disorder, so how can you go around teaching regular people about how to use words to write good stories?”

Oh, boy… (Thanks, though, for reminding me that I want to write a science-metaphor-intense post about the meaning of the word disorder, chaos theory, and how something may appear to be “disordered” just because it’s too complex to be understood at a glance.) Yes, I’m autistic. You don’t have to whisper; I only take offense at someone mentioning that when they’re using it to “prove” that I must be incapable of doing something they just saw me do. I keep mentioning it because of the pervasive notion that autism = can’t use words. See me using words better than most people can? Of course you do. Logically, that has to mean that I, “despite” having this “less-than” brain, must be able to use words. A lot of people also think that autism = inability to use or even understand non-literal language, right? Did ya see my aside in this paragraph about using a metaphor about chaos theory? ‘Nuff said.

“Why are you such a typical ‘Angry Aspie’?”

If people made stupid assumptions about all aspects of your personality, cognitive ability, etc., based solely on one fact they knew about you, and those assumptions were almost entirely negative, you’d be angry sometimes, too. (Willful ignorance on any topic makes me angry.) For that matter, I can’t see much of “typical Aspie” traits in myself, even going by how actually autistic people describe it. (I think more of our “tribe” need to remember what we keep telling regular people: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Even my “clone-sibling” and I aren’t the same in how our neurology expresses, and we have the same DNA! If someone on the spectrum says, “I have trouble reading facial expressions, and I can’t understand sarcasm,” I believe them completely, because each person is the expert on their own experiences. If someone on the spectrum says, “We all have trouble reading facial expressions or using sarcasm,” obviously they’re incorrect.) If you think I’m just like every other person with this neurology, you don’t know anything about me or them.

“Why didn’t you get a degree in English, if you want to be an editor?”

Kids, I am an editor; never doubt that. Helped put my clone-sibling through college with the money I earn from this kind of work, so yeah, it’s real.

When I was a university student, sometimes I’d be asked ‘If you want to be a writer, why aren’t you an English major?’ My reply at the time was always some variation on, ‘Because knowing how to analyse Shakespeare and Hemingway doesn’t tell you how to write like them, much less how to write like yourself.’ (I usually didn’t mention that I write science fiction, because there were two or three professors in the English department at that university who were rabidly against science fiction: said it was evil because it’s “male.” Yes, it’s a fact: All science fiction manuscripts must be typed in first draft using one’s male appendage. *rolls eyes* Okay, I admit I borrowed that bit of sarcasm from a minor character in a Barbara Hambly novel who responded to the question, ‘Can women even be scribes?” by saying, ‘Of course. It’s not as if they write with their… er, whiskers.’) Having a degree in English may help someone be a developmental editor, but it’s useless for the small-detail stuff like sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, word choice… They don’t teach that at university; they don’t even encourage it, these days.

 

 

 

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About Thomas Weaver

For several years, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom (editor). I'm physically disabled, and I currently live with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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3 Responses to …And now for a FAQ post.

  1. Sheron says:

    Don’t care about the spectrum, just willing to learn how to write correctly and your blog helps. Everyone is different, and you don’t have to be autistic to have varying personality traits. Meet my son-in-law. Relax.

    But, you’re right about the colleges not teaching grammar. When I went for my masters in English, I asked for an advanced grammar course. Not available. The idea was we should have learned that in high school. However, I was a high school English teacher and just getting across subject /verb and the structure of a sentence was hard enough to teach, much less the nuances of the comma or semi colon.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Terra Vance says:

    Angry, anachronistic, autodidactic, pedantic, grandiloquent aspie know-it-alls are my favorite. 🖤

    Please share with us. I love this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wait, wait, wait. You’re on the spectrum? Why, I didn’t know. Thanks for the alert. *End of snark.*

    Your posts are tremendously helpful to me. I remain ignorant about proper, well, all proper aspects of writing English, but I’m trying.

    As to those degrees…yes, a number of friends have degrees in one area but are competent and knowledgeable in multiple areas. Accountants are coders. An English Lit grad went into computer tech support and is now a professor teaching cyber forensics, and a lawyer went into customer support. You know, lot of time, people aren’t exposed to other professions, or are attracted to a body of knowledge but discover the vocation isn’t what they expected.

    You’re definitely not like everyone else. That’s a huge part of why I enjoy your posts. Few seem to get or like my peculiar humor, and you often do. So, thanks, my blogging and writing friend.

    Cheers

    Liked by 2 people

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