This is part of how the last few weeks have been for me:
I got an email message recently from someone who’d read my blog profile and described it as “interesting and witty.” Cool. Better yet, that comment about my profile was from an author looking for someone to edit their manuscript, and since I seemed like an interesting and witty individual, in addition to having amazing grammar-ninja skills…
So as I’m typing this post, I’m taking a short break from the first read-through of a rather long (more than 150K words) sci-fi manuscript. Taking a break is not “slacking off” or showing a poor work ethic, I should point out; it’s avoiding sensory overload, because one way my synesthesia manefests is in giving “motion” to sentences, just as it gives “texture” and “shape” to words, so reading isn’t a “passive” activity for me. Also, the manuscript is sci-fi, which means a lot of ideas, descriptions of settings and characters, etc., and because I pay attention to what I read… Yep. Sensory overload, unless I’m careful. Good thing I enjoy “surfing” the leading edge of that overload — as long as I can keep myself from getting overwhelmed by the wave, it’s big fun. (So many interesting and even funny — my sense of humor is mostly based on interconnections/coincidence, rather than the embarrassment/misfortune-of-others pattern that seems to be predominant in allistic humor — things pop up when I’m “surfing” the information-overload wave.)
This email message came at just the right time, too. I’d been feeling discouraged, because ever since I “unmasked” as autistic, it seems as if a lot of people who used to see me as a reliable (and entertaining) source for advice about copyediting-related stuff (or even someone worth hiring as a copyeditor) have decided that I lack even basic competence in these things, Because Autism.
It sort of goes like this:
Allistic (non-autistic) person: People with autism can’t use words right, they aren’t good at communicating and they take everything sooooo literally.
Me: You’re mistaken. I’m autistic, and I’m better at ‘using words’ than the majority of people, no matter what their neurology. I’m also rather good with metaphors and anaologies… and no one can say I can’t use sarcasm.
Allistic person: Yeah I used to think you knew a lot about grammar plus I liked your sarcasm but since you have autism you must not be as smart or funny or sarcastic as I thought, you are literal all the time and you shouldn’t act like you know grammar because you don’t.
Me (thinking): What just happened?
So having another editing job now is really good; it’s proof that not everyone thinks I’m incapable of doing what they openly admit to seeing me do all the time.
(Also, something that came out of a disagreement with a well-educated idjit on some internet forum — someone who insists that punctuation is all about “when the voice goes up” — has developed into an idea for a blog post/article about how abelist that notion is: Are people who cannot hear, or people who don’t vocalize, innately incapable of learning how to use punctuation in written English? After all, they don’t have that ‘Use a comma any place where your voice goes up when you read aloud’ thing to guide them… It’s almost as if we ought to be teaching punctuation usage based on meaning instead of breaths or voice lifts. Whodathunkit? *rolls eyes* Maybe I’ll end up writing an article for The Aspergian after all, instead of just copyediting ones written by other people.)
And then there was another “achievement” unlocked, one I really could have done without: I am now officially (because a Real Person said so) an “arrogant aspie.”
Y’see, I have been daring to… offer advice on grammar and punctuation (and sometimes art and science and history and literature) here on my blog, as if I think I know a damn thing about any of this stuff. I’ve been going around acting as if I’m not completely ignorant, illiterate, and unable to understand words! (*shock! horror!*) I’ve even dared to suggest that sometimes a Real Person makes a minor error in punctuation or something, and that I know how to correct such an error; I act as if I know better than some Real People do how many dots should be used in an ellipsis. (Spoiler: It’s not two.) I’ve implied elsewhere on this blog that Real People who write fiction may want to pay me real money for checking and possibly correcting their grammar; I’ve implied that I have a skill that’s worth being paid for, when everyone knows that arrogant aspies like me are incapable of knowing or doing anything useful.
I’m probably ugly, too, according to the Real Person who informed me of these flaws in my (mostly nonexistent) personality, and can’t get laid because I’m an ugly arrogant aspie that no one wants to have sex with.
(Fun fact: For someone who’s asexual, ‘No one wants to have sex with you’ isn’t the terrible, life-is-meaningless-now thing some people assume it is. It’s a little bit like telling someone who really doesn’t like coffee, ‘No one would ever share their coffee with you.’ Um… okay. Thanks! I appreciate your implied promise never to shove a cup of coffee at me and then get all hurt-feelings at me when I turn it down.)
Sorry. I didn’t intend this post to turn dark/angry, when I first started typing… I truly am pleased to have more editing work to do, and so far I’m enjoying it. And at least the idjits and their nonsense give me one more thing to write about here, right?
And don’t worry: I’m not going to quit being a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I don’t think I could, actually. You’ll have to wait a bit longer for more grammar rants and kitten photos and whatnot, though, because I have a long sci-fi novel to edit… and I’m gonna enjoy doing so.