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My Accidental New Career

by Kyra Chambers 16 days ago in career · updated 16 days ago

'I only sent it in for a laugh...'

My wonderful friend Ruth drew this for me for my Facebook page, The Prism Cat.

I'm a big believer in fate and coincidence. Perhaps it's the autistic in me that loves pattern finding, I see deeper than most people do, but I truly believe sometimes the Universe pops up and gives us a big kick up the backside for good reason. Often that reason is unclear whilst you're eyeball deep in the manure pile, but eventually, hopefully, life takes a better direction.

As a child I loved writing, making up poems, songs. I had (and still have) a rich and vivid internal world for all I struggle to think in pictures! I keep entire books in my head, the Dewey decimal system has met its match in my mind! One of the saddest things about growing up is sometimes we lose these childhood passions amongst the grind of life, and we look back, nostalgic, but feel unable to return to that simple pleasure we once enjoyed so much. My writing fell by the wayside in my mid 20's and after losing my entire wonderful collection of the most Emo poetry ever when Poetry.Com crashed the first time, I lost the love of writing my own.

By Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In the last few years since my autism diagnosis, I have helped out more in Facebook groups (check out Making a Difference for the back story) and there is a particular theme that occasionally runs through group discussions that I do find quite triggering.

The subject of Grief in relation to Autism can be heated and divisive, with many folks holding strong feelings on each side. Many argue feeling grief about an Autism diagnosis is natural and part of the process of acceptance, others argue that one should separate the grief of lost expectations and mourn those, not the actual person or wish they were someone else, that acceptance means accepting that person as a whole, the way they came into this existence. It's a particularly fraught topic for me as not only am I autistic and the parent of autistic children, I am also a bereaved parent. I know keenly the loss of child death, and it's not something you would wish upon anyone. You can read my story in 'Facing The Truth'.

By Max LaRochelle on Unsplash

Last year, during Baby Loss Awareness Week, I got particularly triggered by a comment section in a deeper way than usual. Maybe it was the storm outside amplifying my disquiet, rumbling my rage across the sky and painting my anger in furious rain streaming down my window. I closed my browser, fired up Word, and for the next 90 minutes poured my absolute soul onto the page. Everything I had always wanted to say, really wanting to reach people with the message that Autism isn't a life sentence, it's not the end of all things. I tried to finish with hope, the way I do most of my articles, with offers of help and acceptance.

I saved and closed it and didn't look at it again for three months.

As I continued my poking around Facebook, one day I came across a post looking for Neurodivegent authors for a small magazine. I shared the post with several friends who wrote but kept having the niggling thought I should send it in. I ignored that thought right up until the last day of submission and then on an absolute whim, sent it in for a laugh. There was no way that I, a nobody, would be accepted even in a small publication. The longest thing I'd written in ten years had been emails to school! Who on earth would want to read what was essentially a rant and a benediction?

By Victoria Heath on Unsplash

Well, someone did. Quite a few people it turns out!

I was astounded to be accepted into the publication and received some amazing compliments from the staff who looked at and approved my work. Divergents Magazine has a small readership but I am nonetheless thrilled to be part of their work, uplifting Neurodivergent voices. The success of 'My Life is Not A Lament' was due to its somewhat polarising nature, although that was not my intent! I was very fortunate and honoured that it was shared on the pages of two well known autistic advocates, and their support also helped reach more people with my words. The last time I heard (about six months ago), it is one of Divergent's most-read pieces and had over 3000 reads!

My first published work

This massive (to me) success caught me like a deer in headlights. Impostor syndrome can be a common thing for autistic folks, especially late-diagnosed people like me. You have spent a lifetime not matching up, you have this amazing epiphany and find out you're autistic, but then you have this whole new life and self to learn about and accept. Despite people asking for more, it took me another 6 months to write my next piece for a website called Neurodiversity Matters. In the meantime I set up a small Facebook page and started trying to dip my toe in the water of writing more professionally. The Prism Cat became my pen name, chosen for my love of crystals, cats and the way I feel I am a glorious multi-faceted jumble of a person, reflecting the shiny everywhere! I'm quite rubbish at updating my page though as now I get too distracted writing on Vocal!

'For The Love of Roleplay' has received equal acclaim, and going along with my 'Ah, do it for a laugh' approach to writing, I sent it off in August for consideration, and it will be featured in an upcoming publication of The Spectrum by The National Autistic Society! I've also been asked to speak at a conference for Pathological Demand Awareness next year.

Again, every time this happens I am newly astounded and grateful that I, a no-one sat in my kitchen, typing random thoughts into my old laptop affectionately referred to as 'The Red Brick Of Doom' (it breaks fairly frequently!), have had so much acceptance from just a few things I have written. I know I am lucky, these opportunities haven't brought me a monetary reward from publication so far but they have bought me something far more valuable, self-worth and exposure to more people who may find value in my words. I have received some kind donations from folks via Ko-Fi which are always appreciated and help me keep writing!

I joined Vocal this year in July in yet another 'Ahh, why not' moment. To date, I have 11 submitted articles, stories and poems with 35 lovely subscribers and 813 reads in total. I am so happy to have found such a wonderful platform where I have met some absolutely fantastic authors who offer guidance and support and already I can feel I have grown as a writer even in the last three months by reading more, talking more, sharing more. I have found some fellow awesome Neurodivergent writers here and finding other relatable stories helps me as much as the read and the heart helps my fellow author.

This week I had my first Top Story with 'Facing The Truth' and listed as a Creator We're Loving in Confessions, I'm thrilled! Thank you!

I'm friendly, promise!

My writing is heavily influenced by being both Autistic (PDA) and ADHD. Both give me the hyper focus I need to write (though it's always at night, I'm writing this at 3 am..again!) but I have to thank my wonderful impulsive ADHD being the true drive behind my passion and being the part of me that ignores the self-doubt and carries me yelling, somewhat stubbornly, into what I hope will be a whole new direction for my life and being to support my family one day through writing full time. If you'd asked me 18 months ago if I'd be sat here, writing a tale of how I started writing again I'd have laughed at you.

The last laugh is on me!

career

Kyra Chambers

Autistic (PDA) and Neurodivergent writer.

Occasionally I dip my toe into Fiction!

Find my full article list at The Chambers Chronicles

Tips/Subs appreciated but never expected.

***

Divergents Magazine

Neurodiversity Matters

Ko-Fi -The Prism Cat.

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Read next: My First 30 Days on Vocal Media

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