For a summer class project, Preston has sent me 10 questions about this blog. I’ll try my best to answer them all in the time allotted.
3. Were you always interested in writing and was it always targeted at current events and issues you hold at a personal level?
Answer: I think that my answer to this question is addressed in my answers to questions 1 and 2. It is interesting how different aspects of writing are interconnected and that you can’t always adequately discuss one aspect without mentioning the others. I think the same could be said about the next two questions.
4. How do you think that your homelessness experience offers a different or unique view to your writing, and its processes? 5. While reading your blog I found that you believe you have Aspergers disease, do you think this influences your point of view, or how and what you write about?
Answer: I believe that for the most part people’s writing style and process develops internally and thus separate from their external environment and experiences. Everyone who writes with intention develops their own unique method which best suits them – that best allows them to tap into the writing process, that part of their brain that allows writing to happen.
Still, the external environment has some say in the matter. In Stephen King’s book, “On Writing” he discusses how he organizes the writing task. He has a room separate from the rest of the house. There is nothing in that room but the tools for writing, a table and chair, a typewriter or computer, a clock. He goes into that room every day to do nothing but write. He writes none stop for three hours (cranking out some 10,000 words at a time). Then he leaves that room and does not write again until the next day. He compartmentalizes his writing, and does not allow it to interfere with the the other aspects of his life. Not everyone can be so disciplined, such a process may not work for other writers. While some writers can type out whole chapters in one siting, others may spend an entire day struggling over just one sentence. It took Herman Melville a year to write Moby Dick (208,000 words). John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath in less than 6 months, (180,000 words).
Being homeless, I was limited in the amount of time I could dedicate to writing, I could not write while in a shelter. Usually I had to be in the shelter by 5pm and did not leave until the next morning. Although I first wrote in journals and could write almost any where but in the shelter, once I started writing with computers, (first at the public library then on my own laptop), I gave up using journals. And when someone donated a laptop to me for the first time, I was able to cut my umbilical cord to the library and I could go anywhere to write.
Concerning Asperger’s Syndrome, let me emphasis one important aspect. It is not a disease, it is a condition. Just as everyone’s bodies are shaped differently, some are tall and some short, etc., some people have brains that operate differently than others. Aspies (people with Asperger’s) are more intellectually sensitive in some brain functions and less sensitive in others, as compared to more typically brained people.
Aspies are more matter-of-fact towards subjects of interest and are less swayed by the emotional influences that may be attached. I think this leads Aspies to have a more factually accurate, though clinical, understanding of subjects of interest. This tends to make them appear more cold and aloof, and less perceptive of the emotional human intricacies that influence our relationships to subjects of interest. It’s not that Aspies are emotionless, or lack empathy, we just find emotions in others more confusing and difficult to understand and interpret correctly. We have a harder time recognizing emotional influences, so we avoid that aspect of things and focus on the more tangible.
There is also my familiarity to homelessness that may effect my perspective of it. Years of living on the street desensitized me to the more shocking aspects of homelessness. When I see someone overly react to homeless people I have to remind myself that the very first time I entered a rescue mission, it took me about an hour to build up the courage to walk in. The people inhabiting the mission were scary looking and behaved oddly, the building itself had an ominous vibe to it. I have to remind myself that I see homelessness differently than others do. I’m sure this effects my writing, and how other’s read it.