Writing Process Blog Tour

I am doing the awesome Writing Process Blog Tour! I got tagged by Irene: thank you, Irene! How the tour works is I answer three questions and then tag three (well, turned out to be one) people to answer the questions next.

Question One: What are you working on?
I’m continuing the poem-a-day challenge from April; I’m going to do this for a year. A lot of what I’m writing is a new form of poetry- not a new form, per say, since it’s all free verse- the closest I can get to an explanation is that if my usual poetry is a night sky this would be a cloud-cluttered sunset. Or I could go all synysthesic on you and say that the colors I taste when I write these poems have more fall leaves. I have no idea how to edit it yet, since I have no idea what shape I’m looking for. I’m probably not going to post it on my blog until I have at least a little idea what I’m doing because I shrink away some when I know people are looking at me and with something this new it’s best to explore it and be as expansive as possible.
I’m also trying to write more autism stuff for the blog. The closest I can explain for why I want to write this is that we all need to be a little less alone. There’s a big void, and I know no one of us can fill it, but maybe if we weave our voices together we can weave a giant tarp to cover it or at least make some bridges across.
And of course, I’m writing poems for Red Wolf Poems. Poetry exchange is my favorite form of interaction and these poets are some of my favorite people.

Question Two: Why do you write what you do?
I write what I write in hopes to make myself and others less alone. I write what I write because my life doesn’t fit any narrative, so I’m making my own. I write what I write because sometimes the world is a giant fondue of sounds and colors, and writing helps me make sense of it. I write what I write because I hurt and I want to hurt less. I write what I write because I have joy and I want to make it bigger. I write what I write because I hope people will like it, and me. I write what I write because the prompt said so. I write what I write to prove we (autistic people, dd people, neurodivergent people) are people, and worthy, though none of us should have to prove this at all. I write what I write because everything and everyone deserves a name.

Question Three: What does your writing process look like?
Sometimes I let an idea or prompt percolate for hours or days. Sometimes I pace and stim and talk to myself. Sometimes I jump off a swing into a pile of words and leave with my arms full of the prettiest ones. Sometimes I write the same sentence over and over until it turns into something else. Sometimes I write point by point, thought by thought, like a list. Sometimes I start with the physical feelings in my body, see what I can compare them to (a marble run made out of bones, chain link fences crouching in my throat), and go from there.
My process for turning drafts into finished work is: if it’s something for an online prompt, I edit the poem immediately to somewhere between second and fifth draft and post it before I can have a people-are-looking-at-me panic attack. I usually do similar for blog posts, but it varies- sometimes I let them sit for days or months. If I’m writing a prompted poem no one is going to see, I shoot words at the paper as fast as I can and then leave it in the documents folder. Weeks later I go through those and put some in the to-edit folder. The only poems I usually put in the to-edit folder after the first draft are the poems where I said something so important for me to say, that if it isn’t well written, I better make it well written.
Mostly the way I edit poems is memorizing them and repeating them, in my head or out loud, throughout the day, until I figure out what words sound better, feel better in my mouth, and give me a harder-hitting physical body experience.

Technically I was supposed to pass this on to three people, but I could only find one person who could do it who hasn’t done it already, so, the marvelous Puff of Smoke Poems! She says:
A few years ago, I took up the habit of writing a poem every morning. I didn’t revise them, or publish them, or show them to family or friends. I just wrote them.
This non-fiddling, anti-perfecting wasn’t at all like me. It felt like trying on being a different person. A cooler person. A person I’d want to be friends with if I wasn’t already walking around inside their skin.
A person who complained less, rushed less, did less micromanaging or grandiose planning.
A person who laughed more, created more, had more ideas percolating and more Technicolor dreams at night.
Here’s the thing, though. I got busy. Life kept filling itself up, an overnight bag trying to pack for a month: earplugs, Pop tarts, an accordion? Might need those. A curling iron, ice skates, another Master’s degree? Why not? Toss in those seventeen unread novels, the baby’s crib, and the shiny espresso machine. You never know when they’ll come in handy.
There wasn’t a day I decided to stop. Once, I just looked up and wasn’t a woman who wrote a poem every day any more. This is my letter to that woman, asking her to come by for a visit. To stay a while.

Thank you, Puff! Your turn!


The stars are baby teeth

A crystalline lullaby, God in a bucket,
played on the stars piano,
archs through the blackened trees.
Fish write the second and third verses,
in dog’s-tail cursive under the pearl surface.
A boat is shining.
A single leaf of paper is singing from the sky.
The fishes, in bewilderment,
lose sight of all their secrets.
They scatter from the broken doors of their mouths
like wild horses.
Three different girls put their ears to the water,
wake up with their heads full of mud.
Waterlillies are not like seashells;
they do not keep safe the vibrations
of this song.



When I was younger, my favorite dream
was to pick a waterlily. They lay across the swaying lake
like bananas sliced on oatmeal, fitting into each other
like locks, teeth. Trash and ghosts of oil
wrapped around their legs like clingy children.

I thought a green circle
would make a perfect pet. Imagined suspending it from the ceiling,
as if my bedroom was a lake, watching it float
like a UFO. I stared into the greengreengreen
like a crystal ball
and wondered what it would taste like.



This is a response to At The Mouth of Birdsong by Barbara Young. https://redwolfjournal.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/barbara-young/

ABA teaches kids how NOT to communicate

Therapist: “Where does grandma work?”
Little boy: “Um… she works at the house.”
“No. Where does grandma work? Say ‘library’.”
“Whee! Now you get a starburst.”

This is not how you teach three year olds to communicate in language.
Communicating is not about saying what you think other people want you to say. Communicating is about connecting thoughts to words the best you can and saying them (or typing them, or pick your pleasure).
This is not how you teach a kid “the woman who gives me many cookies works in a big building full of stories, which is awesome” this is how you teach a kid “when people tell me “blah blah blah” I should say “blah blah BLEE blah”.”
And this shows how, even “playful nice aversive-free” ABA is about having the kid be right, and not having the kid be a kid who mixes up “house” and “library”, or calls a library a “bookhouse”, or thinks Grandma’s “work” is baking him cookies. Don’t you want to say, “What does she do at the house?” and hear him say “Gives me cookies” and see him light up, and smile with him, or maybe he’ll tell you she stacks the books at the house and you can say “I think she does that at the library.” in a nice way, and also a way that actually teaches him something, because the way you’re doing it he just knows he’s wrong, and he doesn’t know why.
Being a little kid shouldn’t be about wrong and right. If a kid tells you he’s found a portal to fairyland, you aren’t supposed to say “No”, you’re supposed to say “Take me with you”.

Abby Talks About Therapy

TW: abuse, therapy, abusive therapy, weird ways my brain works

So! I’m going to see a therapist.
I don’t trust therapists. I have been to a ton of therapists, and even the ones who didn’t do things like throw kids on the ground or scream in our faces or twist our arms behind our backs have had a combination of these ideas:
– Everything wrong with my family is my fault
– Acting normal is a really important thing for me to do
– I actually could do things I said I couldn’t do- I was just not motivated/too scared/a bad judge of my own limits (this one was occasionally true but not nearly as often as they thought it was, and the way they applied it was quite damaging)
– My mom said (whatever the thing was) never happened; I must be lying/delusional/have trouble perspective taking, and a really important therapy goal should be to get me to realize that my mom was right about everything
I could go on…
(Note: I’m not saying there aren’t good therapists, and I’m not criticizing anyone who has chosen to go to therapy. If you’ve found a good therapist, I’m really happy for you.)
And therapists are really good at manipulating people (I mean, therapy is about changing the way people think? So it can be a really powerful tool for good, and also a really powerful tool to misuse) and I’m super easy to manipulate a. to say what you want me to say in verbal communication, because of my scripting and low processing speed and general trouble saying what I mean in mouth-words and b. if you get me to dissociate first, because, how can I tell I’m not dreaming? How can I be sure I’m not eight? How do I know that it isn’t a good idea to put grape jelly in my ears? Okay, that’s sort of a ridiculous example, but in that state you could probably get me to put grape jelly in my ears if you wanted to, and, more seriously, you could convince me that I’m broken in whatever way and that I need to try and fix myself- and this kind of therapy has put me in long term mindwarps, and I’m afraid it will sometime put me in a permanent mindwarp.
The thing is, there are some things therapy could really help me with, such as my terror of telling people things because I know I’m going to say everything wrong, or my assumption that anything anyone says to me or doesn’t say to me actually means “you’re a really horrible person and I don’t like you” (part of that may be because of past therapists telling me that people are just pretending to like me – I would love therapy to reverse previous therapy!) But, almost every time I’ve revealed information to therapists before it has been a really bad idea- can I tell you about the horrors of abusive-parent-and-abusive-therapist-work-together-to-abuse-kid?
And that brings me to the fear that working with a therapist will make things get worse again. Because things have got better, so much better – I mean nothing has even been thrown in a long time- and I want them to stay better. But therapists tended to make my parents terrified that Really Bad Things would happen if they did not Control My Behavior and they also tended to suggests ways of Controlling My Behavior that involved, for example, slamming me into walls. (Can I tell you about therapist language. About how Escort To Safe Space can mean Drag Kid By Hair and no one but the parents-kid-therapist or just the kid-therapist can know it, and the parents-kid might not know it’s an unusual definition and no one will believe the kid.)
I’m going to get a therapist because school says I have to or they won’t let me go to school anymore because they’re afraid I’m going to kill myself (look, I got practically kicked out of school and I did not get thrown into a wall, things are very safe and they need to stay safe (one of the things I wish a therapist would help me with is my reaction to safety being “I’ve-got-to-keep-this-I’ve-got-to-keep-this *golem voice* my preciouss safety! *knocks on every piece of wood in the room, tries even harder than before to be perfect, stops talking to safe people because I might say the wrong thing and make them stop being safe people, has panic attack because I know I’m going to ruin it*” (Yes, noticing that I’m safe actually causes me panic attacks. “No one has hit me in a while OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO DIE!” I have a very ironic brain.)))
TL;DR: My school is making me get a therapist. I would put myself on the list of People Who Need Therapy except that therapy has never been anything but awful and damaging. I wish I could get therapy to reverse previous therapy.