One of the questions I found most helpful in the initial quiz in Cynthia Kim’s I Think I Might Be Autistic was in the section about “intense or unusual interests.” The author asks, “Do you find that you naturally focus more on the details of things than on the whole?”
I’m grateful that Kim went on to give an example of how this focus might manifest. “For example, when you walk into a new coffee shop, you might notice a sign then a person then a pattern on the wall then the sound of the espresso machine rather than immediately perceiving where you need to go to order your coffee.”
As a former professional proofreader, I might have felt the need to throw some commas into that mix. As a currently 53-year-old woman struggling to understand her own autism, I think that unbroken sentence expresses the overwhelming experience such a simple activity can be for some of us.
I don’t like to think of autism as a disability per se, but it’s true that my fear of becoming blinded by what others consider mere details has held me back from exploring what my city has to offer.
I want to learn to celebrate who and what I am.
I also need to spend less time on this blog just now. After selling and professionally publishing a book that I now firmly believe should have been edited and marketed as literary fiction rather than a young adult novel, I’ve finished writing the first draft of another manuscript I would like to start pitching to agents.
My writing partner, whose ideas on what needs fixing in my work have always been depressingly accurate, has confirmed that I need to do at least one rewrite. It shouldn’t take long, but it does need focus.
I do enjoy posting biweekly on this blog; so instead of skipping Monday as was my original plan, I’m going to call it Detail Day.
Today’s detail is brought to you by a long morning run and an unknown neighbor who left an intriguing mat next to the gutter. I run in the street partly for comfort, partly for safety, and partly to give me incentive to get up early because that’s the only time I can have the street to myself.
The mat features a picture of a child flying away on the back of a goose.
I’m very fond of folklore but didn’t recognize this story at all
I took a picture, got home and did a bit of Googling.
So far as I can tell, it’s not a German story, as I initially hypothesized. It’s a Swedish one.
Specifically, it seems to be a picture based on a story by Selma Lagerlof, the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature.
Lagerlof was commissioned to write a book about geography for Swedish public school students. She was inspired to write The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, a tale of a boy whose naughtiness causes him to be magically reduced to the size of, so far as I can tell, a fingerling potato. He is now at the mercy of all the farm animals he once tormented, and they’re not in a forgiving mood. Flying away with a flock of geese brings him to safety and teaches him some lessons about morality – and of course his beautiful country. (This is supposed to be a geography reader, after all.)
I would love to spend all day in a Lagerlof rabbit hole, since I was lucky enough to be born the right size and mental shape to fit in one, but duty calls and I reluctantly answer.