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What does it mean to be a neuro-divergent writer? (Part 3) by Luke Matthews

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Luke Matthews

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 3, with Part 1 here and Part 2 here.


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

It might not be true but if the myths that are rumoured around the humour and the no sense of it in autism: not having one not being having it (the sense) you wouldn’t be getting it (not the book obviously you’ll be getting that) you wouldn’t be having or getting it – I already said that. Oh yeah I don’t need reminding (and you shouldn’t either) I didn’t even vaguely forget in the slightest sense of the word: buy the book.

If there’s no (buy) sense and your (the) senseless and it’s just a load of (book) senselessness well you wouldn’t (BUY) express (THE) it (BOOK) either: if there was no sense: do you get that (not the book I mean but you will get that too)? Can you see? The sense of it I mean: can you see the sense of it (and have you taken a look at that book you’re going to buy yet: have you seen it: that book you’re going to buy)?

To pounce upon the moment already passing: in terms of timing I’ve always heard it said that this is integral and so collateral impact of co-morbid executive dysfunction is bound to result in synchronisation issues i.e.

To pounce again upon the moment already passed in terms of timing: a double whammy – was its delivery delayed? Typical you wait until two come and it’s all about the timing in the first place so there’s some irony served up with your double whammy so maybe worth the wait after all with the free irony if it was late I don’t know, I wasn’t keeping time.

Speaking of time: time to do one thing you were planning on doing. That thing. There’s still time. I don’t need to remind you but I’ll remind you: buy the book. That’s what you were planning on doing wasn’t it? You said so yourself I clearly remember writing it down. ‘I’m planning on buying the book’. You are I mean. You’re planning on buying the book. But you’re going to take it further than that aren’t you? As soon as you get the chance.

And anyway – a double double whammy (Quadruple? (4) (Serving [‘up’ flat? (a court change)] on the rebound – simply not possible! (3,6,4)) – I’ve got two left clocks and I always have: two left clocks on my two left wrists; both of them, 24/7 or should that be 48/14 of them; or more at this point I’ve lost count. Who would have thought writing would involve so much counting? Word-wise I mean. I didn’t expect it ages ago focusing on studying ‘literature’ as a teen… in maths.

Speaking of which have you thought about how many of the books you’re going to be buying you’ll be buying? Buy as many as you can in fact why not buy more? You’ll need a very good reason for that. Only… two wrist-clocks (left) if you like – I was saying before – and no before you ask I can’t spare the time to give from either or any of them either: I’m actually in a rush to meet a deadline right now at the moment. You should be in a rush anyway too! I don’t need to remind you or do I need to remind you? I don’t think I do. And you will? You will do? You’ll do it? You’re going to? I’m so glad.

And I already told you about my time keeping. Speaking of doing things being on time doing them: have you bought the book yet? You need to; as soon as possible! Get it done; you’ll be a hero, loved around the whole world if you just get that done – or possibly at least a little bit more popular to at least just one person in a small area within my local world. [ahem]

Get ‘buying the book’ done. Done and gone. Honestly. Get it gone. Just get it done.

Just buy the book. Get it done. Just buy the book. Honestly!

Finally (honestly (what a relief)) I just have to finish:



I don’t even CARE about you BUYING it anymore!! I’m not even bothered about the money at this point (and that coming out of me is saying something)! Honestly, you can come over to my FLAT and read MY ‘contributor’s’ copy (with the notes for the revised 2nd edition of my story (fingers crossed! Coming to a shop you should be visiting soon at some point soon! (no need for ‘fingers crossed’)) already beginning appearing scribbled here and there, and the single ‘typo’ (very deliberate quotation marks there – it’s a guessing game (if you like)) clearly identified (buy it before it changes or disappears completely (or goes out of stock) (and answers on an e-card (can hardly be giving my postal address out can I if I’m famous?))) IF YOU’LL JUST STOP me GOING ON ABOUT IT FOR ONEMINUTE!!!


But really thank you.

(just checking – I take it you’ve bought the book by now?)


(Also I just wanted to say how sorry I am about what I just said – when I was saying I didn’t care about you buying the book anymore; of course I care, of course I care! And I’ll care so much moreafter you’ve BOUGHT the book. And I promise… in the future… I’ll care more, I’ll be so full of care; if you buy two… or more, keep on going: the more books you’ve bought the more I’ll care. No – let’s be more current and active: the more books you buy… the more I care! All the more books. Just keep on buying the books and I’ll keep them coming (with care))

Oh I almost forgot to tell you that thing, it’s the title of the book you’ve been on about so much about, about that you’re going to buy it, and how: In Other Words – that’s the title: In Other Words!

That’s how you’re going to buy it: by the title. How’re you going to buy it if you don’t know the title? Don’t be silly. You need the title. Stop being silly. ‘In Other Words’. Stop being silly – that isn’t the title).

In Other Words (that’s the title).

In Other Words. That’s the title of the book you are going to buy.

In Other Words. Thanks again for that.

And good day, and thanks again and I know I can go on about things me so I’m sorry but really, I just need to say just one more thing – just one(!!) and I mean this with completely earnest total sincerity and it’s extremely important this last thing (or two):


(And also… one more thing… just one… okay?

Good luck.)

(with anything…

you might be up to…

in the immediate future…

whatever that is?)

And now that I am done, if I seem to be forgetting anything…

And for some reason you can’t get a message to my face

(I am famous after all (just the tiniest bit ^ ^))

Maybe you can think up some other way…

To get my attention?

(Maybe you could spend… for example…

A little… bit of… time… somewhere…

On something… or someone(s)




I don’t know.

What do you think?

What are you thinking?

Are you thinking about buying that thing?

Are you thinking about what you could do with a book?



(From me)

(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.

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