The Life Autistic: Communication – Step Up or Dumb Down?

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I think it was when the word ‘physical’ popped up in my mind.

And then the mental dialogue began and ended in an instant:

“No, try corporeal it’s so much richer, and it gets at the essence of the topic.”

So I weaved that into my answer, capping off what was probably a short (75-second) but pontifically mellifluent dialogue. It felt good to say, felt good to speak, and I ended knowing and feeling like I’d contributed something meaningful.

Until I got a note.

“They said they can’t understand you.”

Ah, to be me.

I said nothing for the remainder of the class.

I do wonder: at what point do we compromise?

First, let me propose a musical genre. Opera.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an opera fan. Maybe I should be. For some it’s more of an acquired taste.

But people acquire the taste for opera.

They work up to the refinements, the nuance, the subtleties, the appreciation of a finer art.

Where would we be if we insisted that every form of expression “above us” should be made more accessible?

Sometimes it should.

It’s not always about dumbing down, but making clearer.

But what of aspiration? That challenge to yourself that says, “I need to get better at understanding and appreciating this?”

Alas, that is not our burden.

It is hard to make it easy. 

The Life Autistic: Be Cool, and Talk Like a Normal Person

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“That’s really cool,” said Mo, describing one of her cool toddler things.

“Mo,  try to find a better word than ‘cool’,” Mom (ever the teacher) suggested.

“Yeah, like . . . fascinating.” I up-sold from a 5¢ word to a $2.50 descriptor, something that would befit a typical 3-year-old.

She tried it out. “That’s really . . . fa-sci-na-ting.”

While my wife and I grinned about that, I backpedaled on the thought.

“Actually, Mo,” I realized. “Just go ahead and say cool.” 

*******

Just the other day, someone shared a compliment on my readout on a conference call: “Hunter – eloquent as always with many nice compound words and phrases.”

Some of my coworkers jibe me on how they “can tell I have an English degree” and “feel like they need one themselves to follow me.”

And in chats, I’ve more than once delighted folks when they mention that they didn’t have to Google a word I used.

*sigh*

For those of us on the hyperverbal, overlexical side of The Life Autistic, the journey is fraught with more dictional peril.

So, funny enough, I’ve made strides. Over time, I’ve taken a few mots justes (here, don’t Google it) from the bottom shelf.

Fam. Y’all. Blooda. Thx. Yo. Dude. LOL. IKR? Like. Roll with that. 

And to my surprise, people don’t think I’m dumb when I use words like that.

Sometimes they think I’m normal.

Maybe even cool. 😉

How Many Words Should You Write in a Day?

“Whoever writes the most words in a day, wins!”

Is this what we’ve come to?

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

How many words should I write in a day? 

—Nathan Burt, Cantonment, Fla.

What? 

This isn’t NaNoWriMo. This isn’t a contest. This is writing. Art. Do or do not. There is no word count goal in life.

So what occasions this question? Oh, I know!

Writers. 

Writers who will toot the rusty trumpet of wordcount boasts by the 500s, 1000s, 1500s, and OMG I WROTE OVER 9000 WORDS TODAY. Writers who have slit throats and slain the “good writing goats” over the profane altars of “Most Words Wins.” Writers who forgot that writing isn’t probs, probes, stats, or maths. This isn’t a numbers game.

You misspelled quality. Looks like you wrote quantity instead. That’s your problem.

Is it OK to eke out some occasional hollow boasts of word count in your Tweets, posts, and braindumps? Can’t fine or arrest you for that. We’re all guilty. But don’t make it a habit.

Don’t be guilty of surfing with the popular crowds of crows, shouting out into the nothing about the numeric dent they’ve made in their #wip. Don’t strut like an ostrich on uppers after you write xxxx number of words in xxxx amount of time. You don’t see stenographers hop up and do the Dougie in the courtroom after they wrote “FIFTEEN THOUSAND WORDS IN A DAY, YEEEAH!” 

Heck, you could write “swag swag swag” over and over again for an hour and light the jorts off of most wordcount poseurs.

Just write. Write something. Make it good. One hundred hard-earned words well-written and kept quiet win out over the thousands who write for nothing more than the inevitable wordcountbrag fodder.

It’s the words that count, not the word count that counts.

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