Last Thursday, I cried in front of a stranger because I couldn’t do algebra with colored squares.
After many years of wondering why I’m so damn useless and lazy, I finally got tested for ADHD.* I’ve had partners with it, read books about it, but I really didn’t think it applied to me. I wondered sometimes, but I thought I was just looking for an easy way out of just getting my shit together, which is frustratingly typical. I have no hyperactivity problems; I can sit still just fine, especially if I’ve got something interesting in front of me. The issue is in my ability to focus on the right stuff at the right time and for long enough to get it done. I’ve heard it described as feeling like you’ve got too many tabs open in your brain-browser. That’s basically it, except to me it also feels like there’s this constant static that makes it hard for any clear action signals to get through. I may know I need to get up and go to an appointment, but instead of getting up, I’ll sit motionless and listen to my brain buzzing until the time to go is long past.
Now, of course, I really wish I’d been diagnosed younger. My academic record is basically just a painful mess, and I can’t help thinking that maybe it didn’t have to be. Women are massively under-diagnosed with ADHD. Because of social conditioning, girls tend to get depressed and hate themselves for struggling rather than scream and break things, so we often don’t get help. Society is really pretty chill with girls being depressed and dysfunctional, so long as we are considerate enough to implode rather than explode.
One way of looking at it that I personally kind of like, is that ADHD isn’t exactly a flaw in brain function; it’s more of an outdated feature. It can have great benefits, especially if you happen to be a hunter-gatherer who needs to watch for lions and venomous snakes without missing any subtle signs of drinkable water and edible tubers. This is one of those things where social context largely determines impact, and what might make me really excellent at some things, makes me absolutely crap at what I want to do with my life and means that I can’t keep up with the lifestyle required by this society.
I would like to function better in my daily life and be able to fully pursue my goals, so I’m starting CBT coaching and I’m also going to look into medication, because science is awesome and this is exactly the kind of thing it is for.
*Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder: Apparently ADD is now combined with ADHD even when there’s no hyperactive component and is referred to as inattentive ADHD.
Today was a bit of a wash, but here are some cute pictures from my photoshoot. I think Christine at Entwined Portraits did a great job working with my total awkwardness. She was so nice and professional, and she made the whole experience fun. We even worked the pups in there right at the end because we had extra time, and I’m a ridiculous dog person and insufficiently ashamed of it.
So, that’s fun. I made this nifty banner, though. I’m fairly proud of those roses and I plan to put them everywhere. The castle kinda looks like a birthday cake to me, although my sister pointed out that maybe I’m looking at it wrong – maybe birthday cakes just look like castles.
I’ve had the most intense urge to play Minecraft the past few days, because my brain is just refusing to kick into gear. I know that that way lies literal mountains and caverns of wasted time, but it’s so tempting. This is the reason I haven’t installed it on my semi-new laptop yet. It would be so very bad. (But so good.)
Building games are totally my favorite, which is weird because I was never that into legos. Playing with physical toys seemed like a lot of effort to very lethargic young me. I did like Age of Empires, though. That shit was the best. I would herd all the deer and boar into pens and get annoyed if my clueless peasants ever shot them for food. Their lives were a sacrifice I was willing to make in order to build a tiny menagerie in the middle of a frozen wasteland with actual hordes of enemies on all sides. I graduated from this to ZooTycoon, which was also an excellent building game. Strangely, I never got into The Sims. They could’ve hooked me if they’d had more Thompson’s gazelles and velociraptors, I think.
I’d like to think all this means I was a creative kid, but I think it mostly means I liked to play god. In fact, now that I think about it, I also loved that game where you play an actual god with a giant monster pet that occasionally stomps your hapless villagers to death.
I dunno. Clearly writing is the career for me, since it is the ultimate license to build anything I can imagine and control all the little characters. Maybe my stories just need more popcorn kiosks and escaped lions.
Oh, I’ll be visiting my family next week, so that’ll be fun. I actually tend to get decent work done on trips, too, so that’s something to look forward to. There’s not much else to do for hours and hours but think, so I always get good ideas on the road. Who knows, maybe next week’s blog post will be on time and have actual content of some sort.
So, I thought I’d pull out my tablet and fiddle with drawing characters to see if that sparked some inspiration. It kinda worked, but it led to like eight solid hours of drawing, which wasn’t really the plan. I forgot to eat. I also forgot to put up a blog post, because I’m a bad person. Anyway, this is Orane, the main character in Somnolence. She likes hunting, so I gave her a nice woodsy background.
So, I had a professional photoshoot today, which is a really weird thing for me to say. The last time I had a photographer take my picture, I was getting married, but I’m gonna need some better quality pictures for various book purposes than I can take myself, so that’s what I did today. It was actually pretty fun, and the photographer was very nice and helpful. As were the people in the friendly neighborhood Starbucks, because it turned out that the library in my building that I had planned to use as our location has been closed for remodeling. Fortunately, I buy an obscene amount of chai from them, so they let us take some pictures in a comfy corner.
I’ll post some of the results when I’ve got them back, but here’s a selfie for now. I actually went outside properly for the first time this week, yaaay… My dogs were very happy about this. According to them, I am super boring when I work, although I seem to make an acceptable pillow.
Do you ever find yourself reading a Terry Pratchett book and just getting annoyed because he says things you never knew you wanted to say, and says them in such a casually clever way that it’s almost insulting? That’s been happening to me a lot. The more I write, the more I notice really excellent chunks of writing that beautifully and humorously communicate a complicated idea or feeling. Of course, coupled with that is the awareness of how freaking hard those are to produce and how much my own work falls short, but that’s just how it is.
I got my manuscript back from the editor this week! I’ve been reading through her comments, and we have a call scheduled for next week to discuss her recommendations. It’s pretty cool.
In other news, procrastination is a scary powerful force. I meant to spend a few minutes prettying up my blog page last night, but instead I spent half the night glaring at my screen because nothing is quite right, damnit. It’s still not right, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna spend another minute on it right now. It’s just going to have to sit for a while and think about what it’s done.
I went out and got some fresh air instead. Soon I will go out and get some fresh caffeine, which is even better.
It’s probably equally scary to share a finished manuscript with people, but I haven’t had that pleasure yet. Two of my beta readers finished reading last week within a few days of each other, and that’s the first time anyone other than me has read the whole thing through. My readers are super awesome people, and all the feedback I’ve gotten so far as been really constructive and helpful, but I still get this little jolt of panic every time I see an update from one of them.
I feel like this whole process is a crash course in developing stronger confidence, though. Not because anyone has been anything less than helpful so far, but because showing it to anyone when I know it’s nowhere near finished was a pretty difficult step for me. Handing it over to the editor was similarly intimidating, even though it’s literally her job to take unfinished things and help develop them into better things. Every step is gonna be scarier than the last, but that seems like a good thing in the long run. It’s hard to make good art while also being too scared to take risks.
Plus, without the risk it’s not possible to get the super sweet responses that make it feel totally worthwhile. ❤