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My Journey as a Writer on the Spectrum

I was inspired to become a writer thanks to reading Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, and the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I enjoyed writing short stories from a young age. My teachers jokingly inquired, “Linda what are you writing, a book?”  

Long before I was even diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, writing has been a therapeutic tool for me. Processing my thoughts and regulating emotions appropriately was a challenge for me growing up. Writing gave me a positive outlet to process my thoughts. 

Thanks to my wonderful language arts teacher, Mrs. Oehler, I developed a passion for writing poetry. In her class, she assigned all her students to write a poem or a haiku on a specific theme. Mrs. Oehler offered honest feedback to me and was encouraging as I worked on things like getting my point across and shortening my sentences, the most challenging parts.

When I had my heart set on winning the Nobel Prize in poetry, Mrs. Oehler reminded me not to get too far ahead of myself. She acknowledged my passion and my potential. She reminded me of famous poets such as Maya Angelou who became famous later in life. By the time I was a teenager, Maya Angelou was famous throughout the world. My parents encouraged me as well, but also reminded me I would need a day job with benefits. I took their advice, and it has paid off. I have had a full-time government job for the past seventeen years. I have been a published poet for over a year. 

It was in early January 2020 when I published my first poetry chapbook, Poetry of Emotions and Motions. Thanks to my friends at Jersey City Writers, I achieved my dream. My book signing took place at the start of the pandemic, just a few weeks before the stay-at-home order was mandated. 

During the pandemic I was unable to go to work for a few months. I kept myself busy writing. I wrote a poem entitled “Prisoner of the Pandemic.” It was in this poem I talked about what it was like for me to be on the spectrum and social distancing during the lockdown. 

Thanks to Zoom, I was finally able to attend writing workshops and prompts. It was a positive outlet for me and pushed me to focus more on how the pandemic was affecting my friends at JCW. 

I wrote a second part to “Prisoner of the Pandemic” entitled “The Second Wave.” Several months ago, I submitted both poems to an online journal. I also submitted two poems on magic realism to an online journal earlier this week. 

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Jersey City Writers  is a (JCW) 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Hudson County, NJ

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