Who Am I? Why Do You Care?

I am a woman on a journey. Where I'll end up is yet to be discovered.


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Writing Novels and Being Inspired

I’m just about 10,000 words in to my NaNoWriMo novel plus pages of character sketches, notes and scene ideas and other random stuff I need to remember about my plot and such. I’m not really a planner – I don’t have a detailed outline I just have my beginning, I know how it all ends and I have notes and ideas for the middles. I do make lists of plot points that can’t get mixed up, but other than that I guess for the first draft I let the characters tell me their story however it unfolds and then I go back and make sense of it all later on. Works for me. When it ceases to work I will try something else.

Anyway, the story I’m writing is pretty fun to write. I have an ADHD main character and this is the first time I’ve attempted to do such a thing. I have to say, I LOVE HER!! I am so excited to tell her story. I’ve not been this excited about a story in a while. Although I have ADHD, I have little in common with my heroine, (except maybe a penchant for metal music,) although I do see a little of my daughter in her. I didn’t set out to do that, it just sort of happened. Also probably because of my own ADHD and Anxiety Disorder, I am beyond excited to be writing this story. My heroine impresses me with her determination and tenacity. She makes me laugh quite a bit, and she’s just plain fun to write. Her mind is a shimmering whirlwind and I can barely keep up.

I hope that sharing stories like this one – bringing heroes and heroines to the forefront that may have different abilities, can help to inspire, educate and end some of the stigma floating around out there.

I wondered if I would be able to switch gears between the editing of Finding Home and be able to dive in to this new, and very different novel. So far so good. I think this is a story that has been clamoring to get out for quite some time.

My main character doesn’t get everything right. She’s quirky, chaotic and nervous. She’s witty and smart. She’s someone I would love to be friends with. And for a while at least, I am…

I’m about to to fall asleep at the keyboard here, so I hope this post makes at least a little bit of sense. I’m calling it a night, but I’ll be back at it tomorrow and with any luck the hyperfocus will kick in and I’ll get in a good day of writing!!


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The (chaotic)Writer’s Life

As an ADHD’er things can get pretty chaotic in my world. Chaos just happens. Like breathing. That doesn’t make me the most organized writer in the world.

I’m fairly new to the world of deadlines, but I’m managing them. Haven’t missed one yet, anyway. 😉

I’m learning how to incorporate being a freelance writer into my world with all my other obligations. I’m confident it will get easier. I’m a work in progress, but I always will be.

One thing has definitely changed. I used to have loads of stories I had begun, then discarded as I jumped to another idea. In fact, I still have most of them, a gigantic box full in the closet. It’s comforting to know they are there, you know, for when I need some ideas, or a spark. How many of them will ever get finished or turned into anything, I have no idea. I used to be good at starting, but not finishing. But that was in the years where I was only toying with my writing – the years that I couldn’t actually write, had in fact given it up – just couldn’t completely let it go. Now that I’ve been writing again for a few years, I have found that I can’t just let a story go. I can’t NOT finish.

Recently, I had to pick among several projects. I had a very rough first draft of a new novel, an idea for a new book, half a first draft for another book, and then I had a project that I needed to work on for a specific market. My big idea was to let the rough draft simmer for a while, shelved, take notes for the new book and set it aside for another time, lose the other work in progress altogether because it was boring me, and work on the project that I had a specific market for.

It sounded like a great idea. I went to work on the new project, only to find that I had three different ways I could do it, and I couldn’t decide which way to go. I started working on plot planners for all three to see which would jump out at me as the way to go, only to decide I could turn the project into three distinctly different works. Hm. Sounds fun. But when I picked the path I was going to start on, I started writing away, only to find that I just kept getting ideas for the OTHER two paths. At the same time, I really just couldn’t get into the writing. I’d sit, day after day, manage a few sentences, but it was all so stale.

And all the while, that shelved first draft? It was calling me. Softly at first, then it started steadily getting louder until it was screaming. What I found? I can no longer just abandon a project and hop into another. I have to finish it. I have to see it through to the end. Every time I start to write on the project that I had deemed more pressing, my mind is filled with ideas for what I need to do with that first draft.

So I pulled it out. I started working on it. The world feels normal again. Turns out my writing self is not too fond of chaos. It doesn’t much like running amok, abandoning a project for another one just because I decided one was more pressing than the other.

Who knew that I needed a method to my madness? Who knew I was learning to finish what I start and not give up until I did? Maybe my chaos can be tamed just a bit after all. Maybe if I learn to trust the process, and not get all distracted by the new, shiny idea in my head I can actually get more work done. I’m learning to trust that the new idea will in fact still be there when I’m ready for it. (and that half finished draft that I thought I’d just dump? Nah…I also started getting a few ideas for that one too. You know, for another time. But it’s in line.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Anyone Have a Spare Kick in the Keister?

I arrived home safe and sound from vacation on Monday evening. Vacation was great, despite the horrendous headache that settled in on the first day and lasted the entire week. It was good to unplug, unwind, have nowhere to go and nothing to do. It was good to watch my DD have fun, good to spend time with my sister and nephew. We had some laughs, I took some naps, read a book, and tried not to think too much or worry about things back home.  When I got home, I didn’t feel as relaxed or rejuvenated as I would have liked. I’m going to attribute that to the headache I tried so hard to ignore. I just felt tired. That’s okay, it was still a great trip.

So now that I’m home, it’s as if I just can’t get back in the swing of things. I’ve started the laundry, but most of it has yet to be folded and put away. The suitcases are still sitting in my bedroom floor. I have studying to attend to, and writing that needs to be done, and yet, I just don’t feel the overwhelming urge to do any of it. Yesterday I sat down to do some studying at 6 p.m. and fell asleep!! I woke up two hours later, wide awake, but with no more desire to do any studying than when I was asleep. Tonight I told myself I was going to study for a while, write for a while, and then read for a bit. So far I’ve done none of the above. oh, I did fall asleep again.  What gives? I have been feeling light headed lately, and the headaches are more than usual. I’ve felt tired and drained and can barely stay awake in the afternoon. Maybe a visit to the doctor is in order, at least to check out this light headedness.

Why is it so hard to get back on track after a break? I needed the break. I craved the break. Now that it’s over I should be raring to go. Not so much. I can’t figure it out. Motivation is still missing. I read an article just a few minutes ago on motivation and the ADHD adult, and it made some good points and offered some good tips. Tomorrow I may have to try some of them. If I can stay awake. :-/

I need to get down to business with Blessed Light, Cleansing Rain. It’s time to make my final edits and then get it formatted for Kindle. I have to get a move on if I’m going to have it ready for its October release. I’m excited about the project being finished, but maybe that’s why I’m digging in my heels too. It’s hard when it comes to an end. It’s hard to let it go. I tell myself it just means that now I’m free to play with the other characters in my head. That should be a good thing.

What do you do when you’ve been away for a while and need to get your motivation back? How do you ease back into the world after being unplugged? I know it feels overwhelming when you turn that computer back on for the first time. I even “cheated” and checked email mid week, but still…

I’m in desperate need of a swift kick to get me going. I also wouldn’t mind if this damned room would stop spinning just a little bit. Well, not spinning exactly, it isn’t going fast, it’s just moving. I know it is. It’s trying to be sneaky about it, but the strange feeling in my head tells me it’s so.


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Hyperfocus, Crashing, and What’s Next?

Hyperfocus.  That awesome part of being ADHD that allows you to concentrate, REALLY concentrate, on something that you enjoy.  Contrary to popular belief, having attention deficit disorder does NOT mean you cannot concentrate.  Your brain simply shuts down during things you don’t enjoy, or you find tedious, or don’t care about.  (like math. and housework) If the subject interests you, then you can concentrate like nobody’s business.  You are all focus and no play.  You obsess about this thing to the point of not caring about anything else.  You will give up food and sleep (and housework) to do this one thing that consumes you. Writing is my one thing.  I seldom get into hyperfocus mode about anything else.  Immersed in a writing project, I couldn’t care less if my daughter ever again has a homecooked meal.  I do not care, or remember when I last cleaned the bathroom.  If you don’t want to pull something to wear out of the dirty clothes hamper, then you are free to go naked.  Hyperfocus.  I get up in the morning thinking about my project.  I get to work, (lately running about five minutes late because somewhere I lose track of time, and then can’t find my keys, or my purse, or the dogs…) all the while I am thinking about my project.  I leave work, pick up my daughter and come home, telling myself I will just sit down with my writing for an hour and then I will start dinner…a couple hours later my daughter is reminding me that she’s hungry, and then I’m scrounging for something quick to fix, or running for take out, all the while wishing I was writing.  Once my daughter is asleep, I settle down with the quiet to work on my project.  I tell myself, just for a little while and then I have to get some sleep.  I remind myself, when 2:00 a.m. rolls around that I have to be up at 6:30.  I dream about my project and the next morning the whole cycle starts over again.  If my daughter isn’t home then I work relentlessly, not worrying about sleep or whether or not I ate.  I tell myself this is not healthy.  I tell myself that there has to be another way to manage this writing life than by letting the hyperfocus take over.  It’s easy to get addicted to the extreme focus.  It’s an amazing feeling of being in tune with yourself and “in the zone”.  It can also be unhealthy and lead to problems.

I’m a single parent.  I like nothing more than to spend time with my daughter.  Now that I’m writing, she has gotten used to “sharing” me with my other passion.  She knows that I do have to work at night, and she is accepting (most of the time) and is very supportive and proud of my efforts.  I normally handle my new role well.  I cook dinner nightly, which we eat together, and I have a “no work” rule on Sundays, and I also reserve one night during the week for no work where we watch a movie together, or play a game, or even just sit on the couch and read our books.  She’s older now, and is handling her dependency issues quite well, and enjoys some time to herself these days, so if I’m at the computer in the evening, she doesn’t really care.

The reality is, that I’m much more organized in my head than I am in real life.  I like this little picture of having everything happen on schedules, with certain days to do certain things, with the house, laundry and meals all neatly taken care of.  Yeah.  Okay.  I make schedules, I do not keep schedules.  I think about cleaning and laundry, and I even start the tasks, then get sidetracked along the way.  Then when the hyperfocus comes in, and I’m deeply involved in a project, everything gets thrown out the window.  I get irritated at the things that take me away from writing.  I get cranky and moody.  This is the part I don’t like.  Most people would tsk tsk at me, and say it’s all about self control.  They would say it’s a choice, and that all I have to do is put down the writing and take care of business.  Not so easy.

I’ve been caught up in my writing lately.  I finished my book, and after putting it aside for a while, I went to work on re-writing.  That went well, I got through the first re-writes without much drama.  When I started the second round, I knew I was close to being done with this book.  The end of last month, I started the edits knowing that when I completed these I would be able to hand it over to the person that is going to edit for me.  It will be out of my hands for a while.  I got caught up in the book, caught up in “completing” it, and wanting it to be exactly the way I wanted.  I went into overdrive mode, thinking only of the book.  I got caught up.  I let everything else go for the sake of working on my book.  Then something happened.  I got to the end.  I was done.  There was nothing more I could do to this work until I’ve had input from someone else.  It was as good as I could make it at this point.  The book was done, but my hyperfocus held on.  Without the book to work on, I was going to crash.  Hard.  So, what do you do when you have all this hyperfocus energy and the project is over?  How do you come out of the fog and find your way back to the land of normalcy?  How do you avoid putting yourself through it in the first place?  I don’t have the answers.  What I have is restlessness, sleeplessness, and a lost feeling.  I have to step back and figure this out.  Although I like the consuming feeling when I write, and am involved in a project that I care about, I have to learn how to keep perspective.

So, that said, I am super excited about my next book, Blessed Light, Cleansing Rain, due out in September.  It has been an interesting process, and I have learned much from this story.  I feel privileged to have known these characters, and will be very sad to see their time in my life come to an end.  My work is far from done on it, but I will get a break from it while it is in someone else’s hands.

What’s next?  I have a few projects I want to work on, but I think the first thing on my agenda is going to be some forced spring cleaning.  Dog hair has infiltrated the entire house, and what little organization I ever had has disappeared.  I’ll set the timer, make a schedule and do some cleaning.  Then I will listen and see what characters want their story told next.  I’ll probably start on one while waiting on the return of Blessed Light. I’m not sure what’s next, but some sleep would be nice.


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All Sorts of Randomness

At some point in the last couple days, I had a coherent idea for a blog post.  I thought about it while driving, while cooking dinner, or doing the dishes.  I knew some topics I wanted to talk about, and what I wanted to say.  I sit down to jot down some notes and realize those ideas are gone.  That often happens to me.  I’m thinking of something, or working on something and before I know it, I’m doing something else without even knowing how I got there.

This morning I had a plan.  I had a list of things I absolutely no- buts- about- it had to accomplish today.  I get up with a raging headache, so I decide to go back to bed for a little while.  I woke up four and a half hours later.  Have I mentioned I’ve been a bit sleep deprived lately??  Not sure if the sleep did me good or made things worse…so anyway, getting an extremely late start I decide to tackle the mound of laundry.  I put in a load, and of course there are some that are still in the dryer from last time I washed, so I take those out and put them on the couch to fold.  Wait, what happened?  I was folding laundry…what am I doing cleaning out from under my bed?  How in the heck did I get here?  I have no clue.  Not one.  I put the clothes on the couch…then BAM, here I am under the bed.  Go figure.  Okay, so I get all the stuff that has gotten lost under the bed out and vacuum up a load of dog hair.  Not that it’s been that long since I vacuumed, but because I have this dog with an intense shedding problem.  Nothing the vet has recommended has worked.  I can vacuum several times a day and then it it still like watching tumbleweeds rolling across the desert.  And if I don’t vacuum for a day or two?  Good heavens you can’t even see the floor.  I can’t hold it against her, poor thing, it isn’t her fault, but boy does it make me look like a bad housekeeper.  I mean, I am a bad housekeeper, so I don’t need any help looking even worse!!  Okay, so where was I?  See how I do that?  Under the bed.  Yeah.  So I’m vacuuming under the bed and throwing stray papers away.  My daughter likes to sit in my bed and draw at night while I work…apparently she tosses her wadded up paper to the side….uh-huh…found the evidence.  So…cleaning up my room, which desperately needs a good sound cleaning and here I am mashing strawberries for jam in the kitchen.  Wait.  What??!!  Strawberries?  Now how did I get HERE?  Sure, I was planning on making jam, but when did I even come into the kitchen?  What is going on around here?  And what happened to the laundry for goodness sake?  (and don’t worry, I know I washed my hands before getting into the berries because I’m fanatical about that sort of thing.) And while I’m in the strawberries, I did promise my BIL that I would bring him some chocolate covered ones tomorrow, so I better get those done while I’m at it…

Just another day in the life of my chaotic mind.  Some days things do get finished.  Other days not so much.  Okay, I did finish the jam because that isn’t really a project you can put on hold once you get to a certain point.  The laundry is partly done and my room is partly clean and yes, if I’m going to admit to the whole truth here, the Christmas decorations are partly put away.  Yep.  Just another day.  And yes, I am fully aware that it is now February.  Don’t judge me.

I’m working on the first round of re-writes for my novel, Blessed Light, Cleansing Rain.  I am happy with this project, and as anyone with ADHD knows, I have been in that hyper focus zone.  That nothing can stop me come hell or high water mode.  That I don’t have time for sleep because I have to do this while I know what I want to do with it.  The I love this story and I can’t wait to watch it grow up and take flight.  I’d been running on very little sleep and all the chaos, and I knew I was very near the crashing point.  I could feel it prickling just under the skin, warning me.  Usually I don’t heed the warning, I just continue full speed ahead until I hit the inevitable wall.  I was given a friendly piece of advice.  Take a few days off.  Do something fun.  Find something enlightening.  So, I put my notes in a nice, neat stack (we ADHDers are excellent stack makers, are we not??) and walked away from it for a couple days.  Now in all fairness I did not leave the project, because it was on my mind constantly.  Scenes I wanted to include, bits of dialogue I needed to jot down.  Things I remembered I wanted to take away because they were redundant.  I worked on cover art until my eyes spun in crazy circles.  But I didn’t write.  Not a word.  I think the break did me good, but I can’t stand it for one more day.  I’ll be back at the keyboard tomorrow.

I’m planning to have a book launch party when my baby is all done.  I’m really excited to be able to share the moment, and I think it will be a fun time.  I didn’t have a book launch with my last book, but I want this one to be something special.  I have too many people that have supported me through thick and thin that I want to thank and to share the moment with.  What better way than a party??

Damn.  I just realized something.  All that gorgeous jam in the kitchen and not a single slice of bread in the house.Image


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The Pain and the Joy of Writing

Just hit 57,100 words on my book and wrote the most difficult scene I have ever written. Writing is sometimes like opening a wound. It’s painful, but the only way to get the words out is to lay open your soul and force yourself to look at it. You become so invested in these characters and this world you invented that it seems more real than your own. You feel their pain, their hurt and their joys more profoundly sometimes than your own. Still, I can’t imagine doing anything else, and don’t know how I gave it up for as long as I did. I think I might take tomorrow off from writing though. I don’t want to lose momentum, but sometimes the emotion can be so strong it’s frightening.

It has been a long time since I’ve been this invested in my work.  I’ve written some short stories in the past couple years that I’m pretty proud of, but this is the first novel I’ve carried on past the beginning in quite a long time.  It has been an eye opening few weeks for me.  I’ve had this story in my head for about a year, and had played with it once or twice, but wasn’t even sure if I could make it work.  When I decided to use the idea for my NaNo novel, I started from scratch, made a rough outline and wished myself luck.  This book has taken quite a few unexpected turns along the way, and the more immersed I become in the story, the more I am reminded that a writer is what I am and a writer is what I will always be.

When I look back over this process and what I have learned about myself this November, I will always be thankful that there is such a thing as National Novel Writing Month.  People love it or hate it for different reasons, but for me, it has been a freeing experience.  Without my “inner editor” breathing down my neck I have allowed myself to do nothing but get caught up in the momentum of my story and the lives of my characters.  I have been able to write in a way I have not written in many years — without fear, without worry.  I’ve never written a first draft in the heat of the moment.  I’ve always analyzed it to death, fussed over each paragraph, and for me, and I know it works for others, but for me, it never allowed me to enter that place where I felt the story was a part of me.  That is how I feel now.  This story is alive and breathing, and it has consumed me, and even though it’s painful and draining, it is still one of the greatest joys I’ve known.

Tonight I am grateful to call myself a writer.  I’m not aspiring.  I am.

What are your thoughts on writing? Pain or Joy? Both? Please share your thoughts — comments are welcome!


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I Won! I Won!

Okay, “win” is a misleading word I suppose, but last night I hit the 50,000 required words for “winning” NaNoWriMo!! Yay me!

As I’ve said, this was my first year joining this seemingly insane challenge.  I just wanted to see if I could do it.  My book is in no way finished,  there is probably another 30,000 words left to write, but I learned a few important things.

I learned that I CAN find time to write.  I learned that I have NOT lost my enthusiasm from the years I spent not exercising my creative writing muscle.  I learned that I can put what I want to do first (sometimes).  I do have to say my daughter was a trooper these past couple weeks.  She has done well with trying to be more independent.

I fear the hyperfocus that has driven me to write that many words in seventeen short days.  At the same time, I LOVE the hyperfocus.  For someone with ADHD that can be dangerous.  It’s been a long time since I was so involved with something that I gave it unwavering devotion.  I like that feeling, like I’m in “the zone”, but I also know that if I am not careful, bills will not get paid, dinner will not get cooked, pets will not get fed, I won’t care if I eat, and I certainly won’t sleep.  It’s all too easy to open your eyes to discover that everything around you has fallen apart because you’ve spent the last several days, or weeks saying, “I’ll do that in just a minute, I have to do this first.”  “I can’t stop right now, I’m in the middle of something important” and so on.

On the other hand, that hyperfocus is amazing.  Sitting there, writing away like nothing can stop you feels AMAZING.  You feel like, well, nothing can stop you.  It’s like you are doing the most important thing you’ve ever done and you can’t WAIT to get to it every day.  Everything else is annoying.  You feel the passion, the drive, that intense pleasure that can only come from doing something you love.

Balance can be a problem.  I know I have to find it..but right now, I just want to revel in the sensation of completing my first NaNo!  I am interested to see how many more words I can add to my book before the end of November, but at the same time, no matter how many I add, I can feel accomplished in the fact that I completed the  challenge.  I didn’t know if I could do it, much less in seventeen days!  The interesting thing was, when I made up my mind to write every single day, 50,000 words wasn’t even that hard to do.  It gave me hope that if I sit my butt in the chair every day to write, and if I don’t keep going back and “fixing” every little thing, then I can actually finish projects instead of starting a hundred of them and never getting anywhere.

I’ve enjoyed the experience and I learned a few things that I will continue with long after November is over.

1.  Write.  Just Write.  Don’t worry about what it is, don’t wait to be “in the mood.”  Write.

2.  Don’t go back.  I keep index cards beside me and when I realize I made a mistake about something I write it down so I can change it later.  If I change a characters name, or a year or an age, I just write it on the index card to worry about later.

3.  I learned that I don’t have to have ALL my research complete before I begin the project.  There is nothing wrong with not having all my information.  I can fill in the blanks for something I may be missing later.  I can also write a thousand words or so, and then devote a few minutes to some research if need be.

4.  When I do my research I keep notes on index cards.  These are handy to have beside me when I write so I can quickly check a fact or two when needed. I also keep a card for each character with information like age, and years that certain things happened to them.  Like how old they were when they went to college, or got married or had a child, anything that I will need to remember as I write.  I know that there is great software out there for writers with amazing things like timelines and a way to keep track of notes and all — sometimes I just like to do things the old fashioned way.  It works for me.

5.  When the words sound dry, or hollow, or aren’t conveying what you want them to — just keep writing.  I can go back and work with the words and the way they sound.

6.  Above all, I remembered that writing is fun.  I remembered that I write because I am lost if I don’t.  I learned that a first draft is messy, full of holes and the information might not always add up.  It’s okay.  That’s why it’s called FIRST.  I learned that I do not have to work on one paragraph for two weeks to get it to sound “just right” before I move on.  Later on there is time to patch the holes, double check the facts and shine up the words so that they are distinctly mine.

At the end of this month, what I hope to have, more than 50,000 random words on paper, is the basic structure for a book that I can work with until I am proud of it.  I learned to enjoy the process and to stop over thinking.  I’ve heard people say recently that they disliked NaNo because it gave people permission to write bad books.  If someone is going to write a bad book, they don’t need permission to do it, or a special month to do it in.  If someone is going to be unprofessional enough to try to send out something that they have not edited, then those people are going to do that whether or not there is such a thing as National Novel Writing Month.    Anyone that grasps the true meaning of NaNo knows it is NOT about writing bad books, but challenging yourself to become a better writer.  It serves to allay the fears and get out of our own heads and WRITE which is what we are all about anyway.