MWW 12 Reflections: Being a Literary Citizen


I’m still reflecting on things overheard at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop.  Go here to learn more. It’s a wonderful opportunity for writers right here in the heart of midwestern land http://www.midwestwriters.org/ .

I heard a lot about being a literary citizen. I’ve thought about this in depth for this last week. I’ve also thought about the people that I see doing this every day. Big shout out to http://kelseytimmerman.com/ who pulled a gigantic move of conscience and sent back his Eagle Scout badge this week. You can contact him on twitter, or just tune in to see what his thoughts are in general. http://twitter.com/KelseyTimmerman or just find him @Kelsey Timmerman. Think about the stand he is taking and why it is occasionally important to stand up for what you believe in even if it means becoming a pariah in some of your normal social groups. Everyone loves a groupie, but they really aspire to be a star.

It’s not just about being active on all of the social media, which they made a huge deal out of. It’s not just connecting on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. It’s not just about interacting in communities that you think might help you. All of these things are good and even putting links to things like I just did twice already will prolly get you lots more readers, but there’s more to it than that. What is it about? Here is where you thank  your lucky stars that I’m here to think about this stuff for you, so that you don’t have to. Here is where you look at what I did and say to yourself….”Hmmmm….self, maybe I should ponder this for the hundredth of a second that social media will allow me to and see if this makes sense for me to do.”

I talked in great length with one of the social media consultants during the workshop (http://twitter.com/androgynisto) who was absolutely brilliant in stroking my little writer’s ego, but also in suggesting new ways to boost my little writer’s ego for myself.  I’m not negating what my 10-25 regular readers do, I’m just saying that I’d like to boost my subscriptions AND feel as if I am actually doing something for my community that is fulfilling and satisfying. I have also been thinking of being a literary citizen in terms of extending the conversations that I am already having. The ones that hold meaning for me.

I’ve thought about what MY community is. I belong to lots of communities. All of them offer me something different in the fulfilling and satisfying department. My home community, although frustrating and the number one filler of blog content, is genuinely pretty satisfying and fulfilling. 

I belong to a community of writers. Actually a couple of them. This community has given me the courage to put myself out there and actually get published. It also has encouraged me to write. Not just stories, but things about myself, this blog and even a few articles here and there. This community has also given me friends and a time when I desperately needed to have friends so that I could transition from being Wee Geek’s mom to the wonderful autistic zombie girl that you have grown to know and to love.

I belong to the autistic community and this is where I feel the greatest responsibility. I cannot separate myself from the way that my brain works. It colours everything that I do, how I think, how I feel, how I interact with the world. Here is a great article about person first language by Jim Sinclair: http://autismmythbusters.com/general-public/autistic-vs-people-with-autism/jim-sinclair-why-i-dislike-person-first-language/ . I feel a great responsibility toward this community mostly because I am the most in tune and intertwined with this community. It bugs the hell out of me that there are so few role models  for autistic people. Especially ones on the higher end of the spectrum. I also feel that we need to dispell the myths about autism because it is a spectrum and we need to ALL work together to make the world a better place for ALL of us. Not just the lower functioning people. Not just the higher functioning people. ALL of us as an autistic community. (I jump sheepishly down from the soapbox.)

I belong to a community of early education specialists. People who know the value of early intervention in the lives of children and their families. For me this means pinpointing developmental issues and trying to minimise their lasting effects on kids. We all know that the earlier we intervene with kids on the spectrum the higher functioning we can make them. Here is a good article on early intervention impacts (disregard the crap about ABA): http://autism-help.org/intervention-autism-aspergers-introduction.htm . I believe this with all of my heart and soul. This also means working with families to make them understand that this is true and coming to grips with the autism diagnosis NOT being a death sentence. It also means enjoying little kids and sharing with their families why you can enjoy your little kids. Our families are in such crisis sometimes that they have forgotten to truly enjoy this wonderful little person that has been thrust upon them.

When I look at just these few communities that I belong to, I am overwhelmed by the impact that they have on me. These few communities only scratch the surface of the things that I am involved in, but they are all terribly integral to who I am as a person and what my belief system is. These are the communities that I care about contributing to and extended conversations about. In some cases I want to start important conversations in these communities and move on with them. I want to learn from these conversations and broaden my horizons with them.

So when I examine my idea of being a literary citizen. I hope that I’m being faithful to the things that I mean to be faithful to. I hope that I am conveying meaningful ideas that start conversations, add to them and make people want to continue them. I hope that I am doing these things in a thoughtful manner that encourage interactions. I also hope that I am doing these things in a thoughtful way that might make people discontinue interactions. This means that I am hitting home with someone and making them think in a way that is uncomfortable for them. Making them think outside of their boxes.

I encourage people in my communities and in other communities to do this as well. We cannot blindly follow. We must think and intervene. We must be good citizens of all of our communities and promote meaningful and thoughtful change when needed.

Go forth, all of you, and use your evil powers for good.

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