(If you are wondering how my home renovation is going, I will admit it’s stalled. For just a moment. Not because I lack the energy, even thought that is true. It’s because every time I fix something, it reveals another problem. We’re pausing so that our budget can rebuild before I rebuild our walls. But I know this house like a colonoscopy now. So there’s that, anyway, that’s not why I am here.)
No, I wanted to talk about adaptation.
Because I love adaptation.
This is actually a revolutionary thing for me to say. Because every time I wrote an adaptation for the stage, which I have done a lot in the last dozen years or so… I have loved it. Every minute of it. Taking something and transforming it for the stage, or for children, for a completely different audience than it was originally intended for– whatever. It creates a layered kind of art, a collage that is built upon other references and interpretations. I freaking love it.
But I haven’t been out about that love. Because every time that I write an adaptation, some well meaning person says, “Why don’t you write something original?”
And I get crushed. Just a little bit. Because what I heard is, “Why aren’t you original?” Which if you know what it’s like to be autistic, what it is to mirror, you are sensitive to the ideas of honesty and originality. Wanting to both fit in and pathologically trying to not “copy” anyone else.
I had a dear friend who would go through phases of her favorite colors. And so I would make sure NOT to wear those colors when she was going through those phases. I went to buy a plum colored couch with another one of our friends and I paused, horrified that this was the only color available.
My other friend asked, “I thought you liked this color. What’s the problem?”
And I whispered, “That’s her color. I can’t have it.”
My other friend looked at me and rightly called it. She said, “That’s fucked up.”
It wasn’t that my dear friend would have denied me a plum colored IKEA couch, I just had retained such a fear of revealing my mirroring habits that I had developed a kind of shorthand. Don’t take what isn’t yours, my mind said.
It was fucked up. Because plum is beautiful. And purple belongs to everyone. It was both ridiculous and harrowing for me.
But the truth is… I love to share. I love fangirling and finding others to fan out with. I love the collective conscious of a culture that can make connections through references and shared history.
My husband and I are so deep into reference humor that we use cadence as a form of reference. We change the words, but by the cadence we know exactly what the other is referring to. It might be a little more complicated than the usual kind of communication, but we understand each other. (Yes, we are that one Star Trek episode that is basically about echolalia and the evolution of language.)
What is bringing this up? I am writing a steamy erotic romance adaptation of Little Women. Yes, the most precious of all female coming of age stories. I’m making sure they get laid, and laid well. With wild themes like mental illness, queer sensibilities, and lots of kinky sex. People are gonna want to burn me. But I am loving it. Because as Julie Andrews said, “Does Mary Poppins have orgasms? You bet she does.”
Neurodivergent peoples are forced to adapt to a typical society everyday. I might as well enjoy the adaptations that make me happy.
Oh, and Beth lives.