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A Little Help

  • Posted on July 14, 2013 at 10:24 PM

So, the good news is that I’ve successfully wrangled my book back on track despite the fibromyalgia and the upheaval of summer, graduation, and a bigger vision of what I want to offer to the world. My book is going to be an important part of that new vision, too; so, I’m even more motivated to get it written, polished, and published.

Unfortunately, I was a little too successful in breaking myself away from my freelance work. The time has come when I need the help. Luckily, I have a platform that makes that possible.

There are many ways to help and even a little bit of help can go a long way!

  1. If you can give, please do so. Even $5 can make a big difference!
  2. Whether you give or not, please connect to your social media sites through this page and share my campaign with your family, friends, and casual acquaintances. Feel free to customize the message you share.
  3. Please leave a comment on this same page to raise awareness of my campaign on the hosting site. Even a little bit of attention might be just what I need to catch someone’s attention.

And that’s it! That’s all you would have to do. So, please help me make this fundraising campaign a success!!!

THANK YOU!!!

Contract in Hand

  • Posted on July 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM

So, Embracing Chaos: Discovering Autism and Neurodiversity is going to be published!  Of course, the title will probably change a little bit and I still have to write it, but I have a publisher!

As I write this we have agreed on the terms of our contract and I have the draft in hand.  The publisher needs to revise that draft, though, and send me the official contract to sign.  Then, we’re in business!

I’ll keep you updated of course…and now it’s time to go back to work.

Embracing Chaos: The Book

  • Posted on December 2, 2011 at 8:00 AM

As some of you may recall, I want to write a book called Neurodiversity at Work. I still do, though in my recent upheaval I took a good, hard look at this goal and the skills and proficiency required to pull it off. I also looked at other autism-related books I would like to write. And I came to the inescapable conclusion that I would need to write two other books before I could broach Neurodiversity at Work with the experience, skill and connections it deserves.

When I first started this blog, I had a book in mind. It was something of a cross between a memoir and an advocacy piece. At the time, I wanted to make the idea viable for traditional publishing, and for the intervening years I didn’t see a way to do it. The audience it could be expected to reach within the first year or two of publication just wasn’t large enough, not without changing the focus of the book dramatically. For the last two years, I’ve been researching self-publication, and I find I’m drawn to it—at least as far as nonfiction goes. The relatively narrow audience for the book doesn’t matter nearly as much if the book is self-published; if you have the skill and wherewithal to market the book, you can profitably self-publish a book with a narrow audience.

So, in turning away from Neurodiversity at Work, I’ve come full-circle back to my first book. This time I’m not dwelling on how to make it marketable to a traditional publisher; I’m dwelling on how to make it a book that fulfills a need for its audience. It will never be a bestseller, and that’s fine. This book, like this blog, is for people who already care, for people who want to understand autism in a way that doesn’t reflect our fears of difference, but instead reflects our desire to understand, uplift and assist those we love who carry the diagnosis.

In outlining and writing this book, I’m taking great care to ensure one important difference that sets my book apart from so many parent books: I’m not telling my children’s stories. Of course, it’s this difference that will make it less appealing to traditional publishers. Embracing Chaos: Discovering Autism and Neurodiversity will tell my story. In this book I will describe how I came to see autism and neurodiversity, explain why I have the priorities I do when it comes to raising my children and advocating for change, and invite others to join me. I’ve seen so many books that purport to tell the stories of autistic children, while really advocating for whatever treatment or approach the parent chose for their child. Those books, the kinds of books published by traditional publishers, promise a cure, a recovery or some other conclusion that promises a semblance of normality. My book will show that normality doesn’t have to be a goal, while arming those seeking a different path with insight and resources to help smooth their journey.

But it’s not just a book for other parents. There have been so many times when I have tried to verbally explain to those on the periphery of our lives what I believe and why. Often, due to my own struggles to communicate verbally, it seems necessary to direct them to my blog and the list of blogs on my sidebar to really make the point. This is fine for those who are comfortable in the blogosphere, but many aren’t. If I had a resource, a book, that could explain it—I would gladly have directed them to that instead. And this, for me, will be that book. But while it will be my story, my journey, I also want this to be a book others can hand out to those on the periphery of their own lives. So, it’s not a traditional memoir, either. It is intended to be a source of information and understanding for those of us who refuse to take sides, or rather for those of us who feel that there are answers and truths evident in multiple arenas within the autism community. (After all, it would be disingenuous to suggest we don’t take any sides at all.)

I hope it’s well received by those for whom it is intended, by those who—like me—feel they need a resource, a reference, a tool to stave off those exhausting conversations in which we try to justify to those who mean well why we, too, are not adamantly advocating for a cure. I hope it’s also a book that adult autists might read to gain insights into us parents who, while not supporting and agreeing with everything they say or do, really are allies in our goals to make this a better world for all those deserve to be heard, appreciated, understood and accommodated.

That is my hope. Only time and publication can determine if I will achieve those goals. But I have to try. I have to set the stage. Then, I have to move on to other issues that need to be addressed.

Review: Blazing My Trail

  • Posted on November 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg’s book, Blazing My Trail: Living and Thriving with Autism is a sequel to The Uncharted Path. This memoir picks up where the other left off, providing new information and insights that will help to put the first book into perspective. Most importantly to me, it follows up on her description of burn-out. In my opinion, her new understanding and her recovery were what made a sequel essential. Like The Uncharted Path, this is a self-published book available in soft cover and e-book formats. It’s a text-based book; I do not remember there being any pictures and a quick scan didn’t reveal any.

In Blazing My Trail, Rachel approaches autism from a slightly changed perspective. Instead of focusing as thoroughly on her struggles as she did in The Uncharted Path, Rachel focused on solutions, accommodations and living with autism. The distinction, though subtle, is significant. Blazing My Trail is definitely a book about hope and about acceptance; whereas The Uncharted Path was a book about understanding and accommodation. In the first, Rachel struggles; in the second she thrives.

While I find Blazing My Trail to be a necessary sequel, and I’m very grateful for the book and its timing, I can’t help but feel that something is lacking from the book. The first book stuck with me. I can close my eyes and I can recall the experiences revealed throughout the book. There is an intimacy and an awareness that seems rather lacking in the second. Perhaps it’s just my experience and the distressing nature of my own fears, but I can remember little from the second book after her medication revelation without flipping through the book for a refresher. There is less cohesion to this second book; each chapter seems more distinct from the others. Yet, as individual essays, these chapters are each significant in and of themselves.

Perhaps a second reading will reveal that this feeling of disconnectedness stemmed from me and not from the book itself. At the same time, I cannot recommend the book as a stand-alone experience. Its significance is in direct relation to its predecessor.

Nevertheless, Blazing My Trail is a beautifully written sequel that is highly recommended to everyone who wants a continuation of the story they read in The Uncharted Path.

Review: The Uncharted Path

  • Posted on November 25, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg’s book, The Uncharted Path: My Journey with Late-Diagnosed Autism, is a memoir detailing Rachel’s journey of self-discovery as per her diagnosis of autism at age fifty. This is a self-published book available in soft cover and e-book formats. The majority of the book is text written in the same style as Rachel’s blog, Journeys with Autism, but there are also illustrations.

Rachel’s experience of self-discovery and self-acceptance makes for a poignant tale. In this book, readers will travel with her through an abusive childhood into adulthood and parenthood, and finally to her discovery of autism, her discovery of self and her discovery of acceptance. Rachel paints herself as a determined achiever in early adulthood, taking on the tasks of career, marriage and parenthood with a serious energy while still struggling with experiences only clarified by her new-found understanding of autism. As she reaches her limits, she depicts her burn-out in vivid detail, wrenching herself and her readers away from the life she had to a life of drastic limits. Then, slowly, painfully, she comes to terms with those limits while also pushing herself forward—not to do more than she can, but to be accepted in a society that does not yet understand. As a memoir, her story is simply told, but beautifully written—it is approachable, understandable and organized, with a hint of elegance showing through her love for words.

More than simply detailing these experiences, Rachel reflects on them, she expounds on their significance to her and she encapsulates her discoveries in a way easily shared with and translated for others. In the course of telling her story and trying to share the meaning she found, Rachel has created a memoir that’s also an act of advocacy. In retrospect, Rachel describes how her life was an autistic life all along, even when she knew nothing about autism. She shows the struggles she’s faced, knowing that others face similar struggles. From bullies in childhood to the confusion of the adult social environment, from the societal conviction of her brokenness to the discovery of her deficits as strengths, she counters the general awareness surrounding autism and challenges many preconceived notions held by the general population. For those active in the autistic adult communities available online, these portions of the text will seem straightforward and well-written. For others, these portions of the text will be revelatory. Rachel’s journey through her uncharted path won’t convince everyone that autism isn’t a tragedy—that autism itself does not have to be—but it is a successful work of advocacy, because Rachel makes her point honestly and effectively, sure to reach those who are truly willing to listen.

Rachel’s writing is beautiful and vivid, capturing telling moments and showing them to readers in the sense of that moment, but also expounding on them in a big-picture context. This combination of showing and telling makes for a moving memoir that is also a work of activism and advocacy.

Readers who want to understand the autistic experience will get a very detailed understanding of Rachel’s experience, which is only one experience but also provides insights into the experiences of those who are less able to communicate for themselves. Readers who are interested in understanding the self-advocacy movement and the need for advocates and allies will also benefit from Rachel’s cogent arguments in favor of acceptance, accommodation and understanding. Finally, readers who enjoy the memoir genre will find Rachel’s soothing and articulate voice, her commitment to organization and her skill with words a welcome relief from some of the poorly executed works available on autism. Her story is a captivating tale that will widen readers’ understanding and experience, even if it does not change their minds. That said, no book is perfect and while Rachel’s book ends where it does for good reasons, this book definitely needs a sequel. Luckily, it has one.