The Life Autistic: Our Kind of Christmas

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I’m taking a break for the holidays.

To my usual readers – catch you later!

—-

To those of you out there on the spectrum with me:

I feel the irksome woes of routines being all askew this season.

I don’t like that much either.

Christmas and the holiday season should be fun, but I get it, it’s just different. The shake-ups can shake you up.

They’ll be doing the same to me.

Hang in there.

Cheers,

H2

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‘Tis the Season

Hey folks,

I’ll leave you with a Christmas trifecta as we head into the New Year. On New Year’s Day, we’ll return with some “New Year’s Writing Revolutions,” since resolutions don’t cut it. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The world might end. Christmas might be cancelled this year. But if not:

Writing Good Christmas Cards — If you haven’t done this yet, here’s how to do it like a boss. 

Writing a Traditional Christmas Letter — You haven’t done this yet, (cue George Zimmer voice) I guarantee it. There’s nothing more delightful than sending a “traditional” humbraggy letter letting everyone know just how awesome you have it. Take advantage, because it’s the most (and only) wonderful time of the year you’ll be able to do it.

Gifts for Writers — You can rack your brains all you want OR you can do this the easy way and just buy what the writers in your life really want. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

-H2

Don’t Feel Like Writing Anymore?

Sometimes you’re not even writing anything to begin with. Or you’ve stalled, and that’s that. Your writing is problem enough as is, but lacking writing altogether is another pain entirely.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

What do you do if you don’t feel like writing anymore?

—Tanner Allnutt, Grand Junction, Colo.

I don’t think anyone “feels like writing” all the time. If you do feel that way, congratulations: you’re a robot. But since you don’t — don’t fret right away. For starters, you’ve confirmed that you’re human. That’s worth something. But if you don’t feel like writing anymore, let’s explore why.

“I just finished a novel.” — Valid excuse, but not for long. There’s another work out there needing to be written. You don’t just whip up a banquet and declare you’re “finished with cooking.”

“I just finished a short story.” No, and WHAT THE— you can’t peter out after a short story. That’s the law.

“I’m busy with work.” — Only applies if you have a real job. Not one of those “fart around and time my appearance work when the boss strolls around” jobs, or one where you can rip off tweets every half-hour. If you can do that, you can write.

“I’m looking for work.” Easy! Write. That’s work. You found it! Congrats.

“I can’t think of where to go with my story.” — And of course, your answer is nowhere. I’d hate to be a passenger in your car if you ever got lost.

“I ran out of ideas.” — No.

Life has a way of…” — No…

I only write when I feel like—” No

Here’s the rub: Writing is not a “do when I feel like it” kind of hobby. If that’s been the case for you, find another hobby, like drinking and boozing. No one has trouble feeling the need to do that.

Perhaps that’s it. Are we “needing to feel” like writing, or do we “feel the need?” You can chase a feeling all you want, but a need chases you. If you go without needing to write, then of course you won’t always feel like writing. And in most cases, you won’t. But if you need to do it, one way or another – you’ll do it.

You can suppress feelings until the end of time. Distractions, cheap thrills, procrastinations, obstinacy: you will find an easier feeling, all the time. But a need? No. You need to smoke, drink, eat, party, coffee, drink some more, sleep, all the essentials and the non-essential essentials. They’re at your core, and you will do them even to your ruin.

If you don’t feel like writing anymore? That’s great. Join the club. You’ll get over it. Back to work.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

On Writing Prompts

I was out shopping with the missus today, scouring cheery aisles of education supplies. To my surprise, I found an abundance of writing/literature/communication aids. Didn’t think they taught any of that, given today’s dismal educational climate.

Found boxes upon boxes of “writing prompts” in the mix. Really? We’re in that kind of shape these days, eh? Judging by the emails I’ve gotten (and ignored), it seems so. Can’t say it’s all bad. But there’s room to make them better.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Do you know of any good writing prompts?

—Meghan Simon, Bournemouth, England

Other than “Write. Write now!” or “Why are you wasting your life?” Not really.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t much need writing prompts. Writing is borne of the imagination; it’s the genesis of inventiveness. How proud of yourself do you feel when you take someone else’s idea and write off of that? Or when you develop seeds you expect others to plant?

Fine. I realize it’s more of a recreational gimmick. But don’t go so much planting the seeds of others when you can create them yourself. That’s half the fun right there.

But for the sake of the post, here are some writing prompts for your enlightenment, if you must:

—A zombie suffers a traumatic brain injury and loses his craving for the brains of others. Does he find love among the mindless of his own kind or among the humans who fear him because he’s “different?”

—The future version of yourself has broken into your house, left everything in shambles, set your car afire, and eaten all of your Bacon Blast™ Doritos®.

—Instagram now offers a taste of your food and drink right when you photograph them. Your protagonist is blind. She only has a flip phone.

—A clockwork android befriends the wrong person: Leonardo da Vinci.

—Technological breakthrough allows for universal translation of the barks and thoughts of dogs. Animal rights groups campaign against dog ownership after it’s discovered that the vast majority of dogs hate being owned by humans. Shep just wants a toy.

—Bullying is banned in the United States. To enforce the bullying ban, the Dept. of Education has authorized local, student-led Anti-Bullying Task Teams to use whatever force necessary to combat bullying. With that kind of authority, there’s no way bullying ever happens in America again.

—Your apartment has been robbed, cleared of everything, save for a watch, a copy of The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, and a bratwurst with a half-finished game of tic-tac-toe etched into it.

—A writer justifies his writer’s block by imagining it into a mental illness. And it’s contagious. Crap.

—A hip, young Los Angeles comedian wades through parties, afterparties, and after-afterparties chasing dreams, money, and love in a sea of affluence and popularity. JUST KILL THIS GUY ALREADY.

—A man walks a giraffe down the street.*

I actually wrote something brief from that last one. Did you have any good works come from a decent writing prompt?

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

Writing Without Cheerleaders

“When I write, I like it when other people give me encouragement.”

“I love the social media age. I can write and have people cheer me on at the same time lol!”

“I feel compelled to keep writing, because the writing community helps me when I do.”

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

What’s the best word of encouragement you can give to writers struggling to write? I try to root for those in my writing community just as they have done for me, and I’m looking for ways to give back?

—Jamie Kushner, Ames, Iowa.

If you’re going to write, be a writer first, and a cheerleader last. There’s no proper place for a writing-cheerleader, or an “enthusiastic” participant.

“But I like cheering people on and motivating others so much!” GREAT! Then STOP pretending to be a writer. Stop saying you’re a writer. You are a cheerleader. Put down the pen, pick up the pom-poms, get in line.

“What’s wrong with encouraging others to write while writing?” If you have to ask, then you’re likely doing more of the former, and less of the latter. Your duty is to your craft, your art, your story. Your duty is not to your “writing community,” or else you’re putting writing in the wrong place.

“You’re just a jerk. I, for one, like the encouragement a writing community provides.” Point taken about that “jerk” thing. Thank you kindly. I, too, like most of the human race, need encouragement from time to time. But for that, I go to counseling. They’re often better at this “encouragement” deal.

“But what about struggling writers?” Let them struggle. That’s part of the process. Since when did we institute writer’s welfare? The war’s between the writer and the writing. Leave it be.

“But I NEED the encouragement from other writers! That’s what makes me happy about writing! Don’t you get it?” Oh, I get it. If writing doesn’t make you happy about writing, then there’s nothing more that needs to be said. Who needs deeper writing from the soul anyway?

“But I NEED to cheer on other writers! That’s just what I DO!” Good. You’re a cheerleader. I’m a writer. This is where we go our separate ways, yes?

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

The Traditional Christmas Letter

We used to be a literate nation, America. We read, we wrote. Can you name any good writers from the past 40 years? Of course not. That’s not the country we live in anymore. We’ve traded Henry James (a titan of literature) for LeBron James (a writer of subpar force). We’ve swapped communication for lolwut txting.

To be honest, it could be worse. At least we expunged cursive. That was long overdue for expulsion.

Anyway, when you have to Google the “traditional Christmas letter,” then there’s just nothing left to say.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Hey, I had a great idea for a story. Hear me out: it’s about a girl in the city who—[DELETED]

—Maureen Moore, Orange Park, FL. 

Sorry about that, Maureen. There’s a Christmas tradition to save. Your answer: no.

Rather than share the lost tradition of the traditional Christmas letters (begun by Pliny the Older) or learn you in how to write these things, I’ll share my own work as a guideline. Enjoy.

Dear Everyone,

Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas season! We know times have probably been harder on you than they’ve been on us,1 but the holidays are here and full of cheer.

It’s been a full year for the Writing All Wrong camp, and we’ve taken the time this holiday season to reflect on our fortune, reaching out in love to let you know what’s been going on in our neck of the woods. We sincerely wish we could come visit with you all2—maybe a trip to one of3 our villas in Monte Carlo is on your agenda!

Mr. Writing All Wrong has been keeping busy, just like the rest of you,4 I’m sure. Writing gigs seem to roll off a conveyor belt these days, and while it’s been quite the bear to rotate between our mountain and beach properties, we’ve managed well. As always, Mrs. Writing All Wrong makes the best of our open schedule, cooking, cleaning, baking, sewing and keeping the kids (and husband) in line.5

Speaking of kids, Anderson just recently wrapped up his third year at Harvard, making the most of his scholarship6 and opportunities, majoring in Finance. We’re looking forward to the work7 he’s got going on in his startup. Following in footsteps of success, we hope.8 Hah! As for Kimberly, she’s done well to handle the pressure and delicate work-life balance of being a CEO at 25.9 It was just yesterday she sold lemonade on the freeway, and now she’s calling the shots for Lemonadia®. Time flies so fast!

After such a whirlwind of a year, we again send our love, joy, and riches 10 to our loved ones this holiday season. Please enjoy the accompanying gift basket of caviar, Andalusian hams, and some of our finest pepper crackers and foie gras.11 We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Writing All Wrong.

Notes:

  1. Have to acknowledge one’s station here.
  2. No, not really.
  3. We have five villas.
  4. Even though some of you were laid off for the holidays…
  5. She doesn’t do any of that. We’re trying to evoke the “good ol’ days,” whenever those were.
  6. Full-ride with benefits, of course.
  7. Like every other college junior, he has his own business, one that his snob rich parents helped him start.
  8. Laughing it off makes it seem less ridiculously fortunate than it really is
  9. Humblebrag. Who cares about pressure when you rake in enough buck to copyright it?
  10. Didn’t send riches, sorry.
  11. Didn’t send a basket. Forgot to edit that out, sorry.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com), followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and postmarked for traditional Christmas delivery.

Writing Good Christmas Cards

We’re taking a turn for the festive here at Writing All Wrong, engorging on Christmas cookies, cakes, and guzzling peppermint/gingerbread mochas, brewing a storm of writing under snow and mistletoe.

Right.

The holiday season is like a yearly maelstrom that’s on every calendar sold in America, but it doesn’t appear until about two weeks before it hits. You can plan writing. You can’t plan holidays. You might be able to plan writing during the holidays.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Speaking of writing How do i write a good Christmas card?

—Greg Danning, Schenectady, N.Y. 

I’m flattered that you ask: no one does this anymore, except me. Writing is eternal, seeping into all corners of life. I’ve single-handedly enlightened the Christmases of all I know, spreading cheer with gracious and thoughtful cards, lovingly handwritten by candlelight. I spend every evening in December at my escritoire, humming along to Bing Crosby and Andy Williams as they croon the holidays to the tune of my writing in longhand.

If you have to ask, then you obviously live in a mindset when it’s always winter, but never Christmas. Here’s how you amp up those Christmas cards and put the “Jolly” back in “Have a Lolly Jolly Christmas.”

1. Acknowledge everyone in the family.

“Hey Todd, hope you and Vixen (and your ex-wives Roxxy, Charmayne, and Skyy[sp?]) are doing well this holiday season!”

Don’t leave anyone out. People hate being left out, and they hate when you leave out people important to them.

2. Create suspense and eagerness.

“I enclosed $20, since I figured you could use a bit of extra Christmas cash. Enjoy!”

I love this. I typically enclose the $20 before I mail it, but I’ll remove the bill before sealing the envelope. It’s a great way to get a return letter, phone call, something to keep the lines of communication open.

3. Make sure they know what’s on your mind, what you’re up to.

“I wish you all the best, but we’re doing great! Can’t believe what fortune we’ve enjoyed with our getaway house! Lovingly sent from under a palm tree in Maui, Writing All Wrong.” 

How else will people know what you’re up to these days? Don’t ask, do tell.

4. Don’t wish well, wish specific.

“Wishing you a swift move out of the unemployment line, and here’s hoping your furnace doesn’t kick the bucket this chilly Christmas season (since I know you had to cut back on presents from the cost repairing it already).

Precisely. Show some forethought. General wellwishing is no wellwishing at all.

5. Use holiday generosity as a springboard for offering favors.

“Just saw the pics of that new backhoe — you should come up for a cup of cocoa and Wild Turkey and help us out with the ditch we’re diggin’. Spend the night or two or however long it takes, whatever. It’ll be fun!”

Always give a chance for people to offer you favors. It’s in the Spirit of Christmas, after all.

Feel free to share what makes your Christmas cards as special as mine.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com), followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and re-gifted in a white elephant soiree.