The Autistic Writer: Climates

In the hit show Sherlock from a few years ago, the protagonist, (Sherlock Holmes, obviously) utilized his “mind palace.” This was a mental image of a familiar location that aided Holmes in memory and concentration. So developed was his mind within the context of the show that he practically could see the imaginary setting appear around him so he could occupy it.

I have no such powers. Much to my regret, I cannot fully visualize a setting in my mind and feel as if I am there. (I would make use of that ability on the regular if I had.)

Nevertheless, I do have a collection of, “ideal environments” in my mind. And while I can’t put myself into them to the point of them appearing real, my Autistic fixation on such places does comfort and calm me in times of stress or fatigue.

Certain components of these optimum settings for my mind appear on their own at times, like a non-destructive intrusive thought. I can then allow them to develop further, or set them aside if I am not mentally available to savor them. Other times, to a certain extent, I can summon them, or at least the feelings they evoke in me.

Not so much a mind palace, in that it isn’t the same exact setting every time. More like a “mind climate” if you will, that I pass through or contemplate on. The effect is both to reflect what I am at my center, and to reinforce it.

My mind climate is mostly late autumn, or winter. Cool, colored leaves blowing around, a small cottage and a fireplace looking out over a valley of same. Perhaps it is the proverbial steel gray sky of winter, windy and snowy that my essence walks through, hunched over and bundled up on my way to said cottage or room with a fireplace.

In real, waking life I can enjoy warm springs and greenery blossoming. But within my mind climate, where the frequency of my thoughts originates, it is rarely spring and virtually never summer.

To me, this is not a positive or a negative. It is simply one of the inner ways my Autistic thoughts manifest visually.

Which is why I must make particular effort not to set all of my fiction in a climate that matches my mind climate.

Not that doing so would ruin my ability to write solid fiction. Some authors set their tales in exclusively the same climate and weather. You find this a lot with noir writings. (Nordic noir is a thing…wherein almost all of the writing takes place in the winter climes of places like Iceland or Sweden.) The weather is a recurring character in those types of stories. But I don’t want to be constrained in that manner as an author.

The day may come when I decide to confine my fiction only to weather that matches my mind climate. But because I’m not choosing that route at this time, I resist the unconscious tendency I have to always tell stories in the rainy fall or the blustery winter.

But I have to ask myself…if all my characters and stories come from within my mind, aren’t all of them to some degree, born of that autumn in my thoughts?

Perhaps all my fiction contains an element of those seasons after all.

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