Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Neir

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is Neir, introducing eir work to the world as R. Tally, better known here on Tumblr as @tallyrunning​.

Neir is an asexual, aroflux and genderqueer person demonstrating the diversity of talent amongst aro-specs in poetry, fiction and musical composition. You can find eir classical and ambient music on Soundcloud and eir writing on Wattpad and Booksie, encompassing an eclectic mix of literary fiction, autobiography, LGBTQ+ fiction and short stories. If you have a dollar or two you’re wanting to invest in worthy aro-spec talent, please investigate eir Ko-fi!

With us Neir talks about identity and connection to other people, composing non-romantic musical pieces, the fear of misinterpretation by alloromantics and the challenge of finding an audience for non-romantic works. Eir words encapsulate a passion for challenging alloromantic norms and celebrating unique creativity, so please let’s give em all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aroflux and creative.

Can you share with us your story in being aro-spec?

My aro realization was fairly quiet, and it came much later than I think I logically would have expected it to, had I known it would. It was easy to figure out that I was asexual; sex has always made me very uncomfortable, and as I grew older I realized that it wasn’t immaturity that was causing my repulsion, but just lack of attraction. It didn’t make sense to engage in something I didn’t want to do with someone I didn’t want to do it with. I also had an ace friend at the time, so the vocabulary came easily to me.

My aro realization came much later, around halfway through university (not more than two years ago). A friend of mine whose feelings with regards romance I strongly shared got a boyfriend, and I became confused because if even she could feel romantic attraction, and we were so similar, why couldn’t I?

I am a touchy-feely person who loves hand-holding and hugs, so for the longest time I thought my strong love for my friends (and potential friends – notorious feelings called ‘squishes’ I couldn’t name at the time) had to be romantic. I honestly just did a lot of internet research and stirring in my own head until I woke up one day and just went, “romance is a sham, I don’t understand it and I don’t want it.” The -flux part of my identity is something I recently started using to label my vastly differing moods and feelings day-to-day regarding platonic attraction. Some days I love people and being close to others; other days I want nothing to do with anyone and am cold as ice.

Can you share with us the story behind your creativity?

I’ve always been someone who lives in my own world, partly because I find the real world confusing and difficult to navigate at times. I’ve written stories and poems ever since I could pick up a writing utensil, and they were always for myself. They were a way to write what I wanted to see in fiction; I would only realize in adulthood that I did this so much because I didn’t see a lot of me or things I could relate to. It’s recently that I’ve come out of my shell and decided to share my works. I always love reading others’ stories, so who knows? Maybe someone else feels just like I did as a child and needs some representation and good ol’ escapism.

As for music, I grew up listening to the same-sounding romantic love songs over and over again, and I began to get very annoyed with the topic. I think romance is great for other people, but the amount it was advertised felt nauseating. I couldn’t understand why it was so important. Similarly, when I took creative analysis courses in my post-secondary studies, professors would often talk about how certain motifs and instruments evoke romantic love by default. I now make it a mission to compose lyrics and instrumental pieces that are non-romantic.

Are there any particular ways your aro-spec experience is expressed in your art?

I often purposely avoid writing romance in my works (this may seem funny, since I’m currently writing a romance novel as an exercise). I focus on other themes I really enjoy reading about, such as ambiguity in social dynamics, mental health, and wonder. Even in my music, I find that I write many ambiguous-sounding or discomforting pieces (to the Western ear) in my attempts to avoid ‘romantic’ instruments and motifs but still convey emotion.

What challenges do you face as an aro-spec artist?

I always fear that when I don’t explicitly state my intentions in writing something non-romantic, people will still find a way to see romance. This goes for my written work (fiction and poetry) as well as my musical compositions. I carry a lot of wonder for the world around me, and that expression of love may be (and has been) misinterpreted. In addition, I fear that no one likes to read things that don’t have romance. This seems to be a common fear, even for non-aro writers. I make relationships a big priority in my fictional work, but if there isn’t anything romantic, my stories seem to be left in the dust.

How do you connect to the aro-spec and a-spec communities as an aro-spec person?

I’m a pretty quiet person who is relatively happy with my orientation(s). I haven’t experienced a lot of rejection of my identity, although it should be said that I am not publicly out. I also get easily overwhelmed with people. I frequent Arocalypse, and love that it’s a small community, for example (in general, I like that the aro community is small and palatable). At the moment, I connect minimally and am happy with that. Maybe it will change in the future when I am more publicly out.

How can the aro-spec community best help you as a creative?

I would love for people to talk about my work! Whether that means likes, shares, criticism, comments, headcanons, questions, whatever! I’m not the greatest at self-promotion, and sometimes I feel like I am yelling to the wind and am the only one excited about art, so any and all help or validation would be appreciated.

Can you share with us something about your current project?

My current baby is a fictional story called The Charlatan. I still haven’t figured out what its genre is exactly, but it’s got elements of adventure and heavily focuses on personal and interpersonal character development. The main character of this book is an aromantic asexual, and every main cast member after her is LGBTQ+. (Note: one of these characters is an aromantic bisexual – I feel that non-ace aros aren’t represented much so I was quite happy when this label fit the character.) The story centers around the main character’s attempts to deal with being cheated by her home country, impending war, and learning to ally with others to achieve redemption. You can find The Charlatan on my Wattpad or Booksie pages!

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