More on my autism. Yippie for everyone. Haha.
An aspect of autism, specifically the low spectrum variety that I have called Asperger’s, that surely gets a lot of attention but is very rarely commented on in depth is obsessiveness. That can take the form of interest in a particular color, a particular object like plastic furniture or civil war currency, or with activities or arts as is the case with me. Of course it is possible to have more than one obsession, as is the case with me. In a sense I have one overarching obsession and a few minor obsession.
The main obsession is with writing and reading, really anything having to do with literature and books. I write for a living (or rather I write and attempt to make a living from it haha) and I collect books. I have collected books for years now, pretty much since I knew what a book was. I was reading by the time I was 5 or 6, and writing at least since I was 8. My mom found a old transcript of mine from the mid 90’s telling the story of a misunderstood vampire who wanted to be more human. If only I had called it “Twilight” I would not have to be looking for writing opportunities today.
Today I have 360 books in my personal library, in my library room that takes up almost all of our second bedroom in our apartment. That number is misleading though, as I constantly sell and trade my books with friends, family, and used book stores. All told I have probably owned more than 1000 books in my life. I focus on philosophy, history, and classic and obscure literature. I am always bragging about the fact that I have a better philosophy collection than my well stocked local library.
I not only like reading the books, I like touching them, holding them, weighing them, comparing them, contrasting them, sorting them by color or type or size or date of publication. Right now they are sorted by the old standby alphabetic by author but that could change tomorrow. That is really where my autism comes in. I have a attraction to books and the way they look and feel that it really rises above just a hobby. I think about books in my sleep and I will buy any book no matter what the topic if the look and feel a certain way or if they have a particular painting or illustration I like on the cover. This is a double edged sword of course because the best books do not always have the most interesting covers and vice versa. But that is what wonderful trade-in used bookstores like Frugal Muse in Darien, Illinois. That is one of my favorite places on the planet and most of the books I now own either came from there or were purchased from funds obtained from selling books there.
When it comes to the other aspect of my literary obsession, writing, I am perhaps even more obsessive. I have at any given time half a dozen active projects going on. At the moment this includes finishing the last few chapters of my 500 page novel, working on part two of a two part epic Greek style tragic play, a short novella, various short stories, poems, essays and of course this blog. I write about two to three thousand words a day. My personal record was 23,000 words in about 16 hours. This was non-stop. My wife all but resorted to shooting me with a tranquilizer dart to get me to stop. I stay up til at the latest 4am almost every night editing and writing. I used to think this sort of devotion to writing and research was a common thing for people my age. My parents and my friends have disabused me of this notion.
When it comes to my more esoteric and less time consuming obsessions I seem to be somewhat obsessed with lists, especially lists of American presidents (I can name them all in order), English Kings (can name them all in order from William I on) and number one of all my historical obsessions, Popes. Yes, Popes. The head of the Catholic Church. Yep. I am obsessed with the men who have worn the papal tiara. I know much more than is normally expected of a non-catholic, indeed a non-believer. I can tell you all about the debauched reign of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, the papacy of Adrian IV, Nicholas Brakespear, the only English Pope, and of course my personal favorite Celestine V, the Pope who was literally dragged from his mountain cave hideaway life as a hermit to take the holy office. Oh and just to give you a sense of how obsessed I am…I didn’t have to look up ANY of that Pope trivia I just used. Yep, I am obsessed with Popes.
So there you go. Yet another view into my deranged mind. Stay tuned for more.