Life’s just not fair is it? Why is it that sometimes people try hard all their lives to do the right things then blow it big style- but for good reasons?
This is a theme I explore in one of the chapters of my forthcoming novel “Our Best Attention”. In it, a woman with a lifetime of struggle and hard work in an unhappy situation, resolves to take an action that is, in fact, a virtual taboo in our culture. It was easy enough to write, in fact the story tumbled out. I found the character concerned to be likeable and pitiable in equal proportions and her predicament rested on almost Victorian circumstances. An echo from the past ringing forward into the 1970s in an uncomfortable way.
This chapter has been read by a number of people and the different reactions to it are striking: male readers tend to dislike it intensely. One found it “too bleak”, another that the central character was “evil and depraved.” Neither was intended. However, female readers, perhaps reacting to the central unfairness of the character’s life, were much more sympathetic. More typical comments were, “that poor woman,” and “what a shame.” That was the reaction that I had hoped to elicit when writing the story. It was certainly how I had felt as the story wrote itself.
Maybe the male reader tends to see bad as bad and the female reader sees beyond the action to the back story: to the whys and hows of life rather than just the whats? A sweeping generalisation of course for which I apologise. Can’t wait to hear more comments on the story after publication though!
I like people with Asperger syndrome, a sweeping statement I know but there it is.
I can’t help how I feel. Of course, like everyone else, there is enormous variability within the syndrome and more to people than just this particular grouping of skills and difficulties. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many hundreds of people at the Asperger end of the autism spectrum over my many years working in this field. This has led me to develop an appreciation for their refreshing style of thought and how it can be manifested in tackling life’s problems.
It was for these reasons that I determined to write a chapter in my forthcoming book, ” Our Best Attention”, about a person with Asperger Syndrome. I wanted to present a positive picture and to write an unfashionably happy ending for the person concerned. In the event this was much easier than it might sound. The chapter wrote itself as the character emerged so strongly in my mind. It is light hearted and pokes fun at some typical “Edinburgh ” types.
As most people with AS are not formally diagnosed, I didn’t specifically mention the syndrome or “diagnose” the person with any particular problems beyond an awkwardness with people and an honesty in the way that they expressed themself. I became very fond of the character as I wrote and keen for them to find a positive niche for themself in the department store in which I set this character.
You will note that I’m being cagy as to the gender of the character concerned. Who is it? Which chapter do they feature in? You’ll have to read the book to find out. I’m thinking of offering a small prize for the first person to identify the “Aspie”.