One January Friday, I was having a lie in. It was my day off though I had to get up shortly to head for Edinburgh. Then I looked at my e-mails. One of the posts I had written here on Walking Talking had been Liked by a fellow blogger and then Retweeted. Then some other people Retweeted it and Liked it. I ended up spending the morning replying to Tweets, feeling slightly dizzy as my words ended up being shared around the world. It was the first of a few experiences I’ve had like that with this blog, just about a year old now.
The strange thing is that the post almost didn’t happen at all. I had been writing about travelling for a few months and the only people who read the blog were people I knew. As I had more ideas for what to write, eventually I realised I should write about being autistic. It is part of my identity and how I perceive the world. I felt uneasy about going too personal, though. I also didn’t want the blog to turn into an autism blog. There are people who do it better.
Being a day tripper is affected by being autistic, since I often get sensory overloads and have to carefully manage where I go and what I do. I love visiting museums but they don’t always love me back, with heavy lighting, crowds and not always having places where I can take a minute. So, I wrote a post about that and called it ‘Being autistic in a museum‘. I published it in December last year to minimal effect. That suited me and I turned to the next post.
Then 8th January came along. The post was Liked by a blogger I read who writes about museums and autism. They Retweeted it and I ended up in conversations with them and museums people in the UK and the Netherlands. I didn’t expect that my words would be read, let alone that they would be considered worth sharing with other people.
Sometimes blogging is quite a solitary art. I am sitting writing this at 1am, sitting on my own at my laptop with my music the only sound to compete with my fingers clacking against the keyboard. The statistics tell me people read what I write but not what they think of it. My perspective as an autistic person isn’t what this blog is about. I write about what I see when I’m travelling. Sometimes that is affected by my autistic brain. It is the prism through which I see the world but it connects me to that same world too. I do a job where I share information with people, banking on that brain to do it. How I connect with people is because I’m autistic, not despite it. And that’s fine with me. I can’t change who I am or what I am. Neither do I particularly want to.
Writing is an escape for me, as much as it is a way to communicate and connect. I took a break recently because I have a busy life and writing was feeling like a hassle. Sometimes, to quote a friend of mine, you just need to live and have some new experiences. There is a real world out there and writing can be a distraction from that. There is a blog I follow called ‘My Enduring Bones‘ where the writer wrote yesterday about the conflict between living in the real world and online, suggesting that they had to ‘[decide] their Zip Code’ and connect with people in one way or another. It is a difficult dividing line but I lean towards the side of real life, even while putting a few words into the big wide Internet now and then about it, just to keep life ticking over and get another perspective on it, even if it is just one’s own reflection, detached as it flows out of your fingers.