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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Big Plans for 2017! The Writing Continues…

While my writing is going a little slower right now than I would have liked, I am making progress, so I’ll take it.

I finished the second draft of my latest novel, Finding Home, and now I need to let it sit a few weeks so I can come back with a fresh eye and a will to fix all the holes and redundancies.

While I wait, I’m working on the final two stories that will complete the book of short stories that I started almost two years ago. The stories still need revision, but once the final two are written I can go back and work on the editing and rewriting. Some are farther along than others. I’m hoping for a mid to late 2017 release date for this one, Thoughts from Chaotic Minds.

I’ve also started roughing out my next novel idea. I’m jotting notes, doing character sketches, and a bit of research. While fiction, the book will center around an ADHD/Anxiety Disorder heroine. I’m really excited to write about her! She’s a lot spunkier than I am, and I like that about her! 😉

Summer is coming to a close and school will be back in before I know it. My daughter’s vacation has absolutely flown by and high school awaits her. That will be one more interesting journey for us!

In the meantime I plan to keep writing and to enjoy the few weeks we have left!

 


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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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Don’t Aspire to be Something. Be it.

Being a writer is awesome. Next to being a mom, I’d say it’s definitely my favorite thing. I love how things changed the day I decided I was no longer an “aspiring” writer. No more dreaming, there was only doing. I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Every writer chooses their own path based on what they want to gain from writing and also from their own personal experiences. Being a writer means different things to different people. Writers are as diverse a group as anyone else.

For a long time I thought of myself as an aspiring author, because I wasn’t quite “there,” wherever “there” actually is. With the help of others (many of them being amazing writers I’ve had the good fortune to get to know, either in person or online), I learned that I wasn’t “aspiring” to be anything, I already WAS.

My writing has changed along the way. I’ve changed along the way. My goals have changed along the way. That’s a good thing. With any career you reach forks in the road and you have to pick one. You don’t get to see what will happen down each of them, you just trust your instincts and choose. You keep going til you reach another fork then you make another choice. It’s the journey.

I’m lucky to have had some articles published recently. It was something I applied for on a whim, and it’s been an incredible part of my journey. I get to write about something near and dear to my heart (ADHD), and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I’m always reluctant to reach out for opportunities like this, always that little part of me that still feels like I’m learning, and so have no business applying. Another great choice I made once I got rid of the “aspiring” author kind of thinking.

I reached a point last month where I just felt stuck. I wanted to write – had so many ideas for things I needed to write – and yet it was all becoming difficult. I’d changed my priorities, reshuffled my projects, and yet something was still off. I needed to get to work on a project that had once had potential and had garnered some interest, but now I wasn’t so sure. I needed to shake things up, separate my work life from the stresses that were in my personal life that I thought was causing this lack of inspiration. So I signed up for a writing course.

I love writing courses. I’ve taken a few over the years, whenever I could. I love learning about writing, gaining new insights, seeing things in a new light and becoming better at my chosen craft. There is always something you can learn from someone else. Always.

I obviously love to read. But let’s be completely honest. A single parent with ADHD and Anxiety, parenting a child with ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, and Depression, while trying to shuffle a day job and a freelance writing career- it now takes me forever to finish a book where I used to go through them like water. One of the first tasks I was given in this writing course was to read roughly twenty books in different sub-genres of the genre I was interested in. There is also a reading form to be filled out for each book. It was just questions to be filled out on the plot, the characters, ect.

At first I just thought, twenty books? It will take me a year. I’ll never manage it. I knew the reason for reading the books. I knew filling out the forms for each was a learning experience. You study literature to create literature. You learn all you can.

Then the craziest thing happened. I picked up the first book and read it in three days. As I took notes on my form along the way, then sat with it when I was done and filled it all in, I couldn’t wait to reach for the second book. By the third book, that form was my best friend. I knew that dissecting these books was helping me to become not just a better writer, but a better reader. I was reading differently. I was a more active participant in the book. I had definite opinions. I was enjoying them more.

Funny how a writing class and a reading questionnaire have transformed how I read. I believe I’m getting more out of the books, just because I’m looking at them differently. I’s hard to explain, but I’m enjoying becoming a better reader. I’m enjoying learning what other authors can show me through their work. I always thought I was an active reader. I always noticed things, would copy down bits I especially liked as well as bits I didn’t. I’d try to look at the work from several different ways. Maybe I just wasn’t asking myself the right questions while I was reading. Maybe I just wasn’t asking enough. Either way, something has kind of clicked with the way I’m reading. Maybe it’s just because I’m more mindful, knowing I will have specific questions to answer when I’m done.

I have a few projects of my own still on hold. They may be there for quite some time, but I’m okay with that. When the time is right I will be able to work on them. I’m trying hard to concentrate on one specific goal right now and work toward it. Even if it doesn’t work this time around, doesn’t mean I’ll quit trying. Writing is my life. It’s part of me. And it’s my job.

It’s Sunday. It’s my one day off from my day job. I used to spend it cleaning and doing laundry and all the other things that got pushed aside during the week. Then I decided no more. Sunday wasn’t made to play catch up. And today? Today is a gorgeous, warm, breezy, bright sunshiny kind of day. I haven’t scrubbed my porches yet; haven’t tackled those spring cleaning chores, but that’s okay. I spent an hour this morning cleaning out the garage, and now, I’m sitting on my front porch, getting ready to tackle some studying, and then some reading. It’s a beautiful day and I can’t think of a nicer way to spend it.

 


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Bye Bye Summer

I spent a lot of time this summer doing nothing much at all. I went to my day job, and spent time enjoying my daughter and just..well…just being. We watched an insane amount of Netflix, read some books, created some art (okay, my daughter mostly created the art…) and took an amazing trip together. I spent much time with my mother, as she has not been well, and while the days flew by because of all the extra running I was doing for Mom, and all the checking on her, it was still good to take that break from everything else in the world. I got to totally unplug for a week, but the rest of the summer I was able to greatly reduce my time in front of a computer screen. It was nice. I’m kind of glad it’s over though.

I like the routine the school year provides. While I am always ALWAYS sad to see my daughter return to school and know I am going to miss hanging out with her every day, being in a routine is somehow soothing. I had high hopes of still carrying on with a revised summer routine, but things being what they were, I didn’t get very far with that idea. Summer was great (minus all the worry over my mom), but now it’s kind of time to get down to business once again.

First, I want to take some time to just be grateful. I am so thankful to have the life that I do, and to be surrounded by the people I am. I have been very lucky (yes, lucky is sometimes the only word I can use to describe it). I have been able to work a day job where I am not only surrounded by people I love and respect, but a job that allowed me to be home during times when my daughter needed me the most. I was able to care for her emotional special needs, as well as her physical needs when those things were more important than having the material items we could have acquired if I’d had a “career” and more money. Sometimes it has been extremely difficult – but it is hard for everyone sometimes. There were times when I feared I was spending more on counseling costs and medications than I would make in a month. Sometimes I did. But we always managed. We always got through it. Sometimes with help from people who loved us, and I was grateful.

I wouldn’t trade a day. I would never trade being able to be present when it was necessary for any career in the world. I am at a place where I am happier with myself than I have ever been. I am blessed to be writing again and I am enjoying the journey I am on as an adult; the adventure of discovering who I am and who I want to be. It has been an interesting road from overprotected child, to awkward and bullied middle schooler, to more awkward and socially anxious teen, to a young married woman (not much more than girl), to severe social anxiety disorder, to miserable wife, to mother, to a diagnosis of ADD to go along with my anxiety disorder, to finally having something worth fighting for, to being divorced and terrified at 35, to learning and growing over the next eight years, changing, evolving, and finding my inspiration, my light, my worth and my value. Being a mother was the best job I ever had, and it was more rewarding than anything I could imagine, but I also knew there was more to me to be discovered. I’ve loved the changes, the freedom, chance to evolve and grow. My daughter and I have a close relationship and I love our life together. Sure, I wish with all my heart that she didn’t have to contend with the things she has had to fight, but together we will always overcome.

I love chasing dreams. I love writing because I CAN. I love sitting up all night reading a book if I want. I love being able to do what I want when I want. I love chasing whims, deciding I want to learn about something and then spending all the time I want learning. I love the conversations I get to have with my daughter about life, spirituality, the future, history, ethics, politics, morals, and the arts. I love my daughter’s curiosity and sometimes we spend entire evenings lost in debate, or doing research on some interesting topic. And sometimes we spend hours watching mindless television shows and eating ice cream. I guess my point is that through all our ADHD chaos, through our clutter and forgetfulness, being an adult isn’t half bad. I fought for the life I wanted, and while it may not look like much to an outsider, it’s mine, and I am so thankful to have it. I like my day job while most of my peers have “careers.” Most of all I love being a writer. I love the fact that I’m moving into the copywriting field and I am so excited to begin that freelance phase, getting to do what I love. I guess all I am really saying, is that life is good. There are things I still want to do, and I believe I will do them. There is something to be said for being satisfied; to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be content, knowing you have become a person you like.

There will always be ups and downs. There will always be tough days. I’m okay with that. I am okay with who I am, and that is, perhaps, the most vital thing I have learned after all these years. I do not have to please everyone. I do not have to seek approval from others to feel good about myself. I can let go of the toxic people in my life without guilt. My circle may be small, but the people that are part of it are people that love me, flaws and all, people I value and trust, and that is no small thing. I am truly grateful for each day I get to spend on this earth, learning, growing and striving to be better than I was the day before. I am blessed beyond measure.

And what does getting back into routine mean? It means I finally get back to work on the short story compilation. I’m hoping to have the rough draft of the entire thing finished in about four months. Then it will be on to the rewrites, editing and getting a release date hammered down. I also have another contemporary novel in the works, but I am trying very hard to give my attention to the story compilation first. THEN I have another, much bigger project in mind, that I will need lots of research for. Right now it is a lofty idea, one that keeps floating in and out of my consciousness, teasing me with all the ways it COULD go, but knowing that it will be there when I get ready to tackle something entirely ambitious.

I should be back to more regularly scheduled blog posts – both here and on ADHD Kristi & Co. Summer may be over, but fall is fast approaching, and it’s my favorite time of the year. People say spring is a time for rebirth and a fresh start, but I always seem to find myself blossoming in the fall.

Don’t take this life for granted. Never stop living and never settle. Keep learning, keep looking for things that inspire you to be better. Don’t be afraid of change – sometimes it’s painful, yes, but growth is always worthwhile. I hope I never stop striving to become a better version of myself.


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Book Launches, NaNoWri Mo and Writing Life

So, it’s been a few weeks since Blessed Light, Cleansing Rain launched. The official local launch party is still a week away, but that really doesn’t count. That’s just an excuse to get together with fantastic people who have supported me in my crazy endeavors and have some fun!

When Blessed Light was published, I definitely heaved a huge sigh of relief. The past year has been a roller coaster with this book. Writing, re-writing, re-writing again – writing a scene fourteen different ways until I found the way that worked for my characters – formatting issues ( issue being my lack of tech savvy) – but when all was said and done, here was this book that meant something to me. I was holding a year of my life in my hands, and it felt good. There was still that rush of What Now?? that always follows completion of a writing project, though. That feeling of now being lost with no true direction, and wondering what to do with myself. I’ve not done any writing since the day I completely finished Blessed Light. I have an idea or two swirling around, though. I decided to let them stew a bit. I decided to enjoy the launch, enjoy the party and then follow the next cast of characters that take up residence in my head.

I decided to take some time off writing. I need time to read some books, watch some movies and just be. Then I realized, that hey, it’s middle of October — that means NaNowriMo is just around the corner. NaNo was an awesome experience for me last year, I can’t just skip it!  So — I’ll take a week break after the launch party and then when November first hits I’ll be ready for NaNo again. After that I fully intend to let my draft settle and take some time off. Probably two or three months, actually. I think it will be good for me to rest the writer part of me and engage the reader part of me.

I had a moment the other night where I had to laugh at the writer part of me. We ran out of something at work, so I was sent to the store. It was Friday night, about 7:00 p.m. and there was an art festival in town that we had forgotten about. So, there I was, in the middle of traffic, when I saw her. I took one look at this woman and KNEW she was a character in my next book. She was waiting to cross the street, talking animatedly with her companions. She looked to be late seventies, early eighties, with fiery red hair that was curled into an elaborate ponytail and tied with a big black bow. She was wearing a lace and spandex black bodysuit. (Honestly, if my 40 something year old body looked like hers, I’d probably show it off in a body suit too…just sayin’.) She had on big sunglasses (yes, at 7 p.m.) I was sitting in my car and just started grinning from ear to ear. Now here was an interesting woman. As I drove to the store I found myself wondering how she talked, what her voice sounded like, what kind of perfume she wore and what kind of music she listened to. When I woke up the next day, she started talking to me. She had some stories, let me tell you! It hit me that morning that I was finally BACK. My writer’s soul had returned after being dormant for so long. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone on the street or overheard a bit of conversation that got me so excited. I can’t wait to write about her and some of her exploits.

Now I’ll spend the week getting ready for the launch party. Other than hosting family holiday dinners, I do not think I have ever actually hosted a party in my adult life. Even though most of the guest list comes from family, I’m still a little nervous about it. Guess that’s the ADHD, Anxiety Disorder part of me that has to stick it’s nose into everything. It should be lots of fun though, with food, cocktails, door prizes and even a discount on Blessed Light Cleansing Rain. I think I need this party. I need to celebrate where I am in life right now. I need to celebrate the fact that I am finally doing what I love (even if I can’t do it full time) and that I’m succeeding. Small steps maybe, but I’m succeeding nonetheless. I like who I am now. I like who I have become. I love being able to embrace the writer part of me and watch it grow. I like knowing that I am fulfilling myself. I look forward to being able to celebrate with, and thank those, who have stood by me and who have supported me and cheered me on. They have been invaluable. I’m even going shopping this weekend and I’m going to buy myself a new outfit. Yep, that IS a big deal!  😉


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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.