No rose garden delivered today

Anoth­er month gone by. It went fast, but most­ly because I didn’t do a lot of pro­duc­tive writ­ing. I hit what you might call a bad patch. I have nev­er been the best at being relent­less­ly focused, and when you com­bine that with two cre­ative blocks, well. Noth­ing gets done.

Huh. So, are you ready to throw in the tow­el?

Wow, straight to that, eh? Yes I was, briefly, yes­ter­day. I was invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate in some­thing I very much want­ed to do, but I can’t because of mon­ey issues. This is the first time I’ve real­ly come up against the fact that I’m not mak­ing any mon­ey. Sure, we’ve been cut­ting back and pay­ing close atten­tion to what we spend, I’m clean­ing the house now, instead of hir­ing it out, and I have a finan­cial dead­line loom­ing in the mid­dle dis­tance, but this was the first time I couldn’t do some­thing I real­ly want­ed to do.

I thought about giv­ing up and real­ly look­ing for a job.

But I did some think­ing last night, and I decid­ed against it. Writ­ing, heck cre­at­ing any­thing, is like exer­cise. I know it’s good for me, and when I do it, it feels fan­tas­tic. It’s fun, I feel good, and after­wards there’s a glow (endor­phins!) about the rest of my life that can’t be beat. I’ve writ­ten about this before. Writ­ing is fun. Mak­ing stuff up, putting it down, being cre­ative… it’s a rush.

Get­ting start­ed is hard. Each day. Each moment, some­times.

So, what’re you gonna do about that?

I thought about get­ting a tat­too, like “FOCUS!” or some­thing, but they cost mon­ey and I already have a tat­too-reward-plan for weight loss. I thought about get­ting an ADD diag­no­sis (I expect I am in that crowd), but well, damn, I’m an adult. I’ve come up with a mantra, and some words to live by, to try to inspire/reason myself into work­ing. I’ve thought about ask­ing peo­ple I love to hold me account­able (that seems like a dick move, though). I’ve tried to post word counts each day I write (did you notice how not-often I did that? Exact­ly). I make lists and cross things off. I’ve even changed to-do pro­grams recent­ly, because sure­ly the last one was my prob­lem.

And then there’s the pos­si­bil­i­ty that all of these things are them­selves a prob­lem.

So you need to keep it sim­ple?

Why yes, thanks. That is what I was get­ting at. I need to sim­pli­fy. I have a few ideas, and I’ll let you in on them next time.

Sure, kick the can down the road. Fine.

I will, thanks.

You said some­thing about a mantra?

I did. For a while now, since last Spring, I’ve had some focus words I try to keep in mind. Goals for what­ev­er I am doing. They’ve evolved a bit, but I think I’ve set­tled on them now, and I look at them every day. They are not meant to inspire, so much as make me yearn to reach them. Words to live by, as it were.

Last night, I also came up with a phrase, a mantra of sorts. Some­thing to repeat to myself in a moment of sloth. I’m try­ing it out today, and it has most­ly worked. We’ll see.

But you’re not going to tell us what they are, are you?

No, I’m not. I’m over try­ing to force myself to do stuff by being pub­lic about it. Pub­lic-sham­ing myself doesn’t work. This is some­thing I need to fig­ure out with myself, by myself.

So, did you do any­thing this month?

Well, yes, I did. I hit a block on the short sto­ry I was writ­ing, so I took a few days and wrote a children’s book. It was an awful lot of fun, and it wasn’t too com­pli­cat­ed. i got to play with lan­guage a bit dif­fer­ent­ly than in a longer form. I’m sure it is not ter­ri­bly good, but I like the idea very much. Right now I am flesh­ing out the descrip­tions of the illus­tra­tions, pret­ty inte­gral to enjoy­ing the book. While i was writ­ing it, I was think­ing of Jane Yolen and Mark Teague’s How Would a Dinosaur… books, and Bri­an Floca’s books (Loco­mo­tive and Moon­shot espe­cial­ly) for inspi­ra­tion.

Once I have the illus­tra­tion descrip­tions done, I’ll send it out to my friends for some feed­back. Then I intend to work on it, and final­ly I’ll need an illus­tra­tor. An illus­tra­tor who doesn’t want to get paid any time soon/ever. Per­haps a starv­ing illus­tra­tor.

Can you tell me what this kids’ book is about?




You jerk

Yes, well. I’m afraid the ele­va­tor pitch will make it sound like some­thing it isn’t. Plus, the work­ing title is crap.

What ever

See you next month.

I’m unfriending you, Internet

My dar­ling wife alert­ed me to a post on Face­book, by a Friend of a Friend (so I can’t com­ment there, since I’m not Friends with the Friend… ugh), a post that began with, “This just in: ADHD also diag­nosed as ‘child­hood’” and linked to a blog post at the Psy­chol­o­gy Today web­site about how the French (of all peo­ple) don’t have any ADHD cas­es, because they (are enlight­ened?) diag­nose the root caus­es: mal­nu­tri­tion, poor par­ent­ing, dumb­ness, etc.

The com­ments on this post (to which I can­not com­ment) cov­er the range, but are most­ly fol­low­ing the lead of the orig­i­nal poster, fun­ny quips pre­sent­ed as insight, opin­ion mas­querad­ing as fact, and assump­tions pre­sent­ed as research.

I have a child with ADHD (inat­ten­tive, not hyper­ac­tive). He is bright, fun­ny, cre­ative and dis­tract­ed. He is on med­ica­tion, and it has done won­ders for him. At one point before he was diag­nosed, my bril­liant lit­tle boy came to us, after watch­ing a com­mer­cial on TV, and told us that he thought he need­ed to go to the Syl­van Learn­ing Cen­ter. The look on his face, that defeat­ed, but pathet­i­cal­ly hope­ful look, stomped on my heart.

If you know us, you know we do noth­ing with­out research. Our child was test­ed, diag­nosed, seen by doc­tors, sec­ond opin­ioned, and final­ly med­icat­ed. He has gone from being a reme­di­al con­cern to excelling in every aspect of his life, because he can pay atten­tion to the things that are impor­tant to him.

But the ADHD diag­no­sis issue is just the trig­ger that got me going this morn­ing. I now know a lot about ADHD, about the process of diag­nos­ing, about how it affects my kid, about the ins and outs of med­icat­ing my child, about the “cock­tail” need­ed to help him con­cen­trate then help him sleep. I see how he feels when he lets him­self down because his brain doesn’t work, and how he feels when he tops a test or a con­test or fin­ish­es a project or a book. I know what ADHD looks like, to me. This Friend of a Friend does not know what it looks like to me, but that did not pre­vent him from lump­ing every­one in togeth­er, damn the shades of grey, in the ser­vice of his clever com­men­tary.

Here’s what I want­ed to add to this guy’s Face­book post, but couldn’t:

Hi. This post is so insen­si­tive, thought­less, and knee-jerk that I am inclined to answer in kind. With­out know­ing you, your chil­dren, how you par­ent, or what you are like, I’d like to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to be an ass­hole to a per­fect stranger, because online, there are no reper­cus­sions. Ready? Here goes. ‘I bet, since you’re so into respon­si­ble par­ent­ing, you beat the fuck out of your chil­dren if they mis­be­have. You cretin.’ What’s that? I’m sor­ry, did I over­step? Did I say some­thing with­out know­ing shit about what I was say­ing? Why, yes, I did. You’re wel­come.”

There’s been some dis­cus­sion online about com­ments on arti­cles, how they rarely add to a dis­cus­sion, being either trolled or face­tious or down­right harm­ful. I agree, and would like to add to that the sug­ges­tion that all of Face­book (et al.) is one big com­ment thread full of mean­ing­less pan­der­ing and hate­ful, irre­spon­si­ble, self­ish com­men­tary.

This is what is wrong with Inter­net com­ment­ing.

There is no space for com­pas­sion, for empa­thy, for under­stand­ing.

I know I am also guilty here of over­sim­pli­fy­ing the issue. The Inter­net is a tool, after all. There are places set aside for thought­ful dis­cus­sion and grate­ful heal­ing. There are nice peo­ple online, even on Face­book, and I like being con­nect­ed to them in a way I nev­er could in Real Life. I appre­ci­ate and love them.

But the rest of the Inter­net can seri­ous­ly fuck off. I don’t have time for you any­more.