Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Techno

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 Techno or @techno-trashcan, better known to aro-spec Tumblr as @aro-soulmate-project​!

Techno is an aroace writer and musician who’s doing amazing work in reclaiming and reshaping amatonormative narratives. I can’t describe her craft better than how she’s put it herself, so I’ll quote her blog header: writing to redefine the concept of soulmates from an aromantic perspective.

She’s also found on Arocalypse under the same username, for folks who want to get to know her and her work outside of Tumblr!

With us Techno talks about aro narrative in an amatonormative world, her love for the aro-spec community, the isolation of being an aro creative and an amazing-sounding original work we should all be looking forward to. Her passion for aro storytelling is writ in every word, so please let’s give her all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

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

When I was growing up, for years I never even considered my orientation. I didn’t get crushes–there was at least one instance where I thought I did or pretended I did because I wanted to be friends with a boy, but that was when I was very, very young. I never really developed an interest in boys (or girls, or anyone else), even once I hit puberty, and I really never thought that was weird. It wasn’t until 9th grade that things changed; there was a guy at my school who apparently had a crush on me, although I, being aro and oblivious, did not realize it at the time. He asked me if I liked anyone, and I said I didn’t, and chalked it up to being because I’d grown up with the same boring boys for so many years, so how could I? But I really didn’t think it was weird until he told me that “everyone likes someone at some point” and I got highly defensive without even knowing why.

And when I brought this up to people around me, they were like, “yeah, well, it is kind of weird, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing,” and I’d learned what asexuality was, and by extension aromanticism, around that time. I don’t really know when the seed was planted in my brain or when I really embraced my orientation, but somewhere along the line it just became a part of my life. It’s been four years and nothing’s changed, so I guess I have that boy to thank for setting me on this path. And that’s my aro story, or the short version at least.

Can you share with us the story behind your creativity?

I’ve always been drawn to writing, music and art. I’m a musician, I like to draw sometimes even if I’m bad at it, and I’ve been writing stories from a young age. Writing definitely became an outlet for me throughout the most complicated moments of my life, even if I didn’t always use that outlet appropriately or effectively. Anyone who knows me in real life knows I always have something to say!

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

I find writing about my aro experiences, even if just for myself, cathartic at times. On my aro blog, I have a writing project where I take prompts and ideas for soulmate AUs and stuff and turn them on their heads, because arospec people are so often left out of that conversation or just written in with a “soulmates can be platonic too so sure aros are included i guess” in a way that erases many aro experiences, so I try to combat that. Sometimes just writing out how I feel is a way of expressing my aro experiences in its own way, too.

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

When I was younger and didn’t know what being aro even was, I would try to write romance, and it’d either end up really cliche or just completely bland because I had no idea what I was talking about. And once I realized why that was, trying to write romance became basically impossible because I have no experience to channel when doing it.

I also feel like most people don’t want to read a story without romance, or else they’ll just try to read between the lines and find it even when it doesn’t exist (shipping culture is a prime example of that). For that reason I often feel alienated from other writers, and I feel like no story I ever write will satisfy some people.

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

The aro community means a hell of a lot to me. The community here on Tumblr and also on Arocalypse is the only community I really have, as I don’t know any out aro-spec people in real life. I used to feel more connected to the ace community than the aro community, but at some point that dynamic got turned on its head. I often find myself frustrated with parts of the ace community because of the way it sometimes erases or devalues aro-spec experiences in favor of reinforcing the idea that asexual people can and often do still experience romantic attraction and form romantic relationships, and that’s an extremely important distinction to make, but the delivery often leaves me, as an aroace, feeling like I’ve been left on the backburner.

What frustrates me with the aro community is how small we are, but more so I’m astounded each and every day by the amount of love that pours out of this community, and the nuanced and thoughtful discussions that so many of us are just dying to have the moment we’re given the opportunity.

TL;DR: I love the aro community with every inch of my sad aro heart.

How do you connect to your creative community as an aro-spec person?

Being an aro creative can be extremely isolating. As I said before, people want a good romance story so badly they’ll even read one where there isn’t, and this goes for stuff like music, too. So much content out there is all about romantic love and that’s extremely isolating for an aro-spec person. With my soulmate project, just searching for more prompts exposes me to so much erasure and amatonormativity. Some of these people are the same people who say they support us, but they are so quick to erase us when it means they get the story they want.

Writing about my experiences and having no one pay attention to them feels like screaming at the top of my lungs into a void that never answers.

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

Following me at @aro-soulmate-project and reblogging my work is the best way to do that! I also very much appreciate messages, questions, suggestions, anything! Even just talking to other aros gives me the drive to create more.

Can you share with us something about your current project?

Currently my project is on a bit of a hiatus as I finish up my semester at college and get back into the swing of things, but I’m still posting other stuff, and I should hopefully be back at it again soon! Generally, I find a prompt for a soulmate-related story online and then think about how I could twist it to fit a possible aro experience. It gets hard to cover the wide range of aro experiences, but mostly I want to work against the idea that everyone has their perfect match out there and will some day never be alone again, even platonically, because that’s simply not true, and even works which incorporate aros usually don’t do it tastefully, accurately, or organically. I try to keep them varied, but a lot of them are just me projecting! I need to go on the hunt for more prompts, so send them my way if you’ve got them…

Have you any forthcoming works we should look forward to?

Oh boy, I’m excited! A few years ago I wrote a short story for my fiction class called The Heartless that was basically a metaphor for aro(ace) experiences. And now that I have a lot more experiences on both the writing front and the aro front, I’m rewriting it and expanding on it! It’s a vaguely fantasy story that deals with the main character, Ace (haha), going on a journey to find out what happened to his parents and his best friend. Without giving too much away, it deals with navigating what it means to be human in a world where everyone else is constantly dehumanizing you. Aro experiences, wholesome platonic shenanigans ensue. I can’t say when it’ll be done, because I’m notoriously bad at keeping up with projects, but I plan on posting it to my aro blog once it’s done!

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