Thursday, August 02, 2007


Lately I have been so busy and stressed that everything I do has been less than my best. Trying to juggle kids (home on vacation), a teaching job, various gigs, and my book, I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to be everything to everyone. This results in everything I do being, well, half-baked and unsatisfactory. And hovering over all is the fear that I wouldn't be able to finish my book in time.

I was optimistic that I would be able to write my book quickly because when I was doing the majority of it I was in Tampa visiting my dad, where I had no day-to-day responsibilities. I was able to write 4 chapters in a couple of weeks. But at home, everything is different. I found that I needed at least 4 or 5 uninterrupted hours to 'cogitate' about my subject matter before I could produce any output.

I'm ADD - not in the 'oops, I forgot' sense that so many people mistake for ADD, but the 'can't go to college or hold down a regular job' sense. Things that most people take for granted, organization-wise, are incomprehensible to me. Once I was diagnosed, I was able to structure my environment so that I could be productive, working with the way my brain works instead of against it, and now I see it as an asset, not a liability. I love being ADD because I can approach things in ways most people can't; I can learn (or teach myself) in ways most people can't. I'm not complaining about my ADD. It takes me to the places I want to go.

But one thing I don't have is a set of filters. I can't have music or TV on as 'background noise'. I almost never listen to music for enjoyment, because it sucks up every bit of my attention and prevents me from doing or thinking about anything else. It's a deep, dark pit I fall into that I can only climb out of with great difficulty. The only way I can work productively is in complete silence and isolation. For me (and I guess for a lot of other writers) it is analogous to building a house of cards. I have to place one idea on top of another to get a structure going, and the slightest interruption causes the whole thing to collapse and I have to start all over again.

The way my life is when I'm home is, as you might guess, not exactly conducive to this style of working. I can't just do a half-hour here, 45 minutes there, 2 hours in the afternoon and an hour before bed. It doesn't work that way for me. So I began to despair of being able to finish the book when my publisher wanted it, which was somewhere in the middle of August. And the crazy-making thing about it was that I knew I could finish it in 2 weeks if I was isolated for those two weeks. However, my husband has been going in and out of town for work and my own teaching schedule has its demands, as do my kids. I can't just ignore them, nor would I want to. So it might as well be a year on a private island for all the possibility of that happening.

My publisher, though, has given me a reprieve! Now I have till January to go to press, using this time to finish up, flesh it out the way I'd like to with more interviews, and ramping up my platform so that the time the book is out in March people might know who I am :-). The company has a new distributor that they are excited about and who is very familiar with this kind of book.

Needless to say, this has taken the weight of the world off of my shoulders. I've been able to relax for the first time in 6 months without thinking "I'm supposed to be doing something and I'm way behind!" Now I can give what I need to give to my kids and my job without that sense of impending doom - the kind you feel at 5 in the morning when you can't sleep and the alarm clock is going to go off in another hour. And I can work on mt book without feeling that I have to rush through it and just get it done, but give each chapter the attention it deserves.

I can breathe again. Maybe even blog again!

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