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What does it mean to be a neuro-divergent writer? (Part 2) by Luke Matthews

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In Other Words

Luke Matthews

Luke Matthews is a contributor to a stunning new collection of short stories by autistic authors, In Other Words.

We asked Luke the above question – what does it mean to be a neuro-divergent writer? – and we thought the form of his reply was as informative as the content. As his editor Miranda says: ‘this is the way a neurodivergent writer has responded to the question, and to edit it into a form that fits our neurotypical standards would dilute its inherent neurodivergence’. So we are publishing Luke’s reply over a series of three articles: here is Part 2, with Part 1 here and Part 3 here.


What does it mean to be a neuro-divergent writer?

Moving on, looking back I’ve still not even managed to tell you about the thing I’ve found in life, this thing, the thing I’ve found, that thing. The one and only thing. The one and only thing I’ve found in life. This thing; I’ve found it! In life. I already told you that. That’s where I found it this thing; it’s a thing about a thing: a book. That’s the thing. It’s a book. It’s not a film, or a play (Yet(!)) It’s about a book the thing: it’s not a movie remake of the thing. It’s a book. I told you it’s not something else, it’s not anything else, it’s the thing that it is, that’s the thing: a book. A book is what it is. A book’s what it is. A book. How many times do I need say that?

I’m going to stop.

I stopped.

I said I would.

Are you thinking of literally doing anything specifically?

I’ll say: well time’s getting on now if you want to know what I was going to say originally (not necessarily for the first time) ‘the thing’ in the first place the point I was trying to make: if you’re at all at this point; interested in words or ever were or ever will be interested in words that I come out with and writing: buy the book, it’s got my words in (well I share them with lots of other people (hopefully! How about you? Would you like me to share? I already have whether you like me or not (Is it ‘over’?))).

I just wanted to say: buy the book. It’s full of words! Buy the book. Buy the words. Buy the book. Buy all of the words in the book (you should buy). All of the words that are in the book should be there in the book. All of the words in the book are in the book. Every single possible word that you could possibly buy in the book is in the book if you buy it. Well maybe I’m misleading you there they’re there if you don’t but you should. And if you do I promise there’ll still be there. Well, I mean the book will be gone if you take it, but definitely don’t forget to pay and don’t report any missing words to the police. Buy the book with the words in. There’ll be more than one but don’t just buy any book: *don’t panic* just buy the book I mentioned already.

Did I say that already? Well buy it then. Why haven’t you bought it yet?

Have you bought it yet?

Why not?

How many times have I told you now ‘buy it’? Buy it.

Buy it, just buy it. Just buy it.

Buy it. Buy the book! Just buy the book. By the book or not (I’m not reading that out loud (but you already knew that)) just buy it, or not, but if you’re not going to buy it then do. Buy it. The book, it’s out there now just waiting to be bought just waiting for you to buy it. Buy the book.

To digress from your ‘buying’ of it: you buying this book (which you will do (NOW)); I heard this rumour that might be a myth about autism, the rumour of the humour that might be a myth about a sense of it and without one, without having it I suppose not being able to get it (like you’ll be getting that book? (one of which is available in shops and online too)). But you don’t get it. It’s not a funny bone condition. It’s not been going around. Apparently. Do you get it? No, obviously not, (if it’s not going around) unless it’s a myth in which case it’s not just a rumour then and it’s not just a myth (about it being) and so yes, I get it yes.

Getting it is what I’m doing – it’s what I’ve done. The same way you’ll be getting that book. Say you will. Say you do. Say anything. Say everything. Say you’ve already done it, buying that book (just make sure it’s true). You will do; you’ll get that book. Have you done that yet? You were about to weren’t you – that’s rhetorical: you were about to (that’s not (rhetorical))?

Do you like rhetoric, you get it in books sometimes don’t you? Rhetoric in book form as it were and still is. You can still buy the book. You should buy the book and see about any rhetoric in it and if there is any (in the book you need to buy you’re going to buy) in (the book you need to buy): if rhetoric isn’t your thing don’t worry: just buy it all the same anyway, don’t worry about it.

Stop worrying about it and buy it. Buy it instead. Buy it. Buy it instead of worrying. Or if you are still worried buy it anyway, buy it as well, buy it as well as worrying or don’t worry just buy it buy it anyway buy it if you would which you will do (won’t you? Yes).

(c) Luke Matthews

About In Other Words:

In Other Words is a stunning new collection of short stories by autistic authors. Eight writers took part in our 2016-17 creative writing opportunity Square Peg Stories, and each produced an original short story with mentoring from a wonderful team of published authors.

A shift in the nature of light reveals an eighth colour in the visible spectrum. A boy befriends the last tree in the natural world. A single mother receives help at the darkest point of her life. A young man finds himself trapped in a university overrun by crows.

These stories and more form In Other Words, an anthology as varied as the writers themselves. Some cover trauma, societal issues and stigma; others offer fragments of hope and light. Some reach back in time while others transport us to another dimension altogether. There is heartbreak, wit, humour, poignancy and above all a mastery of the imagination.

What these transcendent stories share is that they were created by autistic writers, people often thought of as unimaginative or incapable of creativity – a myth that has persisted for generations. This collection shatters those stereotypes, misconceptions and misunderstandings, and gives autistic voices the platform they deserve.

The collection has an introduction by autistic author and poet Joanne Limburg, and a foreword by the novelist David Mitchell. It is beautiful, hilarious, heart-breaking, mind-bending and above all it showcases the enormous talent and creativity of a group of people who are often stereotyped as being unimaginative.

In Other Words is out now! The paperback is available from all the usual bookshops, or you can order the special edition hardback directly from Mainspring Arts.

About the author

Luke went through mainstream schooling and completed a BA in Creative Writing at Bretton Hall College, University of Leeds in 2004, and an MA in Screenwriting at Leeds Metropolitan (now Beckett) University in 2007, before health complications necessitated a formal autism assessment in 2008 (turns out he was a born natural). Besides being a writing struggler he similarly attempts music and film, as well as enjoying walking: (all three) mostly in and around Bradford.

  • A writers' retreat space, in an old world cottage, overlooking Lough Derg in North Tipperary -
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