For years, I dreamed about publishing a book and figured it would be the panacea to end the suffering we non-neurotypicals seem doomed to experience in mainstream society. I had my first taste of celebrity status after the Appalachian Trail hike when most in the community began to see more than the superficial abnormality. I wanted more and tried to ignore the occasional hate mail that criticized me for flaunting my heroism. But heroism and celebrity status were the only ways, it seemed, to alter my sad realities. I stopped looking for the happy medium a long time ago because it does not seem to exist. Writing a book appeared to be the only chance to gain that elusive respect and all of my problems would be solved forever. WRONG!!!
I have achieved my goal to become a published author with Penguin Group (USA) – one of the largest publishing companies on the planet. In terms of an ego-trip…it doesn’t get much better than that! With this new accomplishment comes an overwhelming whirlwind of commitments, things to remember, issues to worry about, and, like the rest of the nation, concerns about money. These days I am self-employed aside from a contractual obligation to lead one orientation session at Anderson Center School for Autism per month. The large calendar in my office area is littered with upcoming commitments to deliver public orations and show up for appointments. Even though I have become a lot more responsible with writing commitments down instead of relying on fickle memory, a nightmare still persists. I am sitting on the couch in my underwear watching an episode of Sponge Bob Squarepants. All of a sudden the phone rings. “Hello Jesse! There are one hundred-and-fifty people waiting to hear you talk in an auditorium. Where the hell are you?!” You are fifteen minutes late!” I screwed up irrevocably, disappointed people who have invested a lot of resources, and lost a substantial part of my fan base.” Furthermore, I hate letting people down and take promises seriously. It is one aspect of my Asperger’s syndrome I am able to exert some amount of control over.
Once in a while, I will meet people whose intentions are not benevolent. Like the aspiring writer with Asperger’s who used me to connect with my literary agency and then complained to my agent that I am too persistent after following up with him only twice in increments of two weeks between e-mails. Or the acquaintance from high school that wrote me a very convincing e-mail about how she called up the Dr. Phil Show and connected with a producer who was interested in my story. Instead of admitting she made a mistake, the acquaintance let me continue to waste so much valuable time following up with fictional leads. But I have been mercifully blessed with amazing people in my personal life and business endeavors. These individuals make it possible to continue despite the inevitable exhaustion.
I have had plenty of short-lived careers throughout my life. There has been my fifteen months as a 12-hour night shift worker, an assistant mortician, and substitute teacher. But being self-employed is definitely the most difficult career of all. It is easier to procrastinate, the money comes in phases of feast or famine, the unpredictability is tenacious, and I probably will never get used to standing in front of large crowds. Furthermore, I am struggling to provide realistic, but fair, advice for the many people that contact me after reading Atypical. When I am up past midnight trying to get everything done, the energy to write blogs seems obsolete.
It makes no difference who has it worse in the world or this economy. Everyone has the right to complain once in a while considering success comes with a price. I can, however, look back at the side I came from and realize the grass was not greener. It was as dead as the winter is long. This is a much-better reality and I realize it will be necessary to make time for everything. With that in mind, I shall try to do a much better job of posting the blog entries on a quasi-regular basis. I owe that to you…my loyal fans who continue to infuse me with energy…