Friday, September 16, 2011

Can't Sit Still

Now that Alonzo is back in school I am back to trying to write everyday. Writing has long been a dream of mine. I read more than anyone I know with the possible exception of my mom, so writing seems a natural extension of that love. I haven't always loved writing. I can remember as a young child making up stories, writing them down, and being so proud. Then around junior high some teacher with an over fondness of red ink convinced me I was a terrible writer. It was only when I was teaching and took some inservices about how to teach writing, that I rediscovered that I actually LIKE writing, quite a lot as a matter of fact. Whether I am any good at it remains to be seen, but I am going to give it a try.

We have taken Dakota's old room and transformed it into an office. It has my favorite rug, a simple writing desk with no drawers for me to clutter up and a comfy, if incredibly ugly, Drexel Horrible arm chair to curl up in when I need to be someplace other than the desk. It even has bookshelves for lots of books and my leather storage ottoman containing a couple of soft blankets for when I curl up in the chair. It is a really nice place to work.

There is only one problem. Well two really, but we will deal with them one at a time. The first problem is I seem to have to suddenly developed ADHD. Is there such a thing as adult onset ADHD? I wonder because I seem categorically unable to sit and focus on one thing for more than a few minutes. I am constantly jumping up to go investigate some noise, to take care of some bit of housework, or get a snack, or get a drink, or get a sweater, or go to the toilet, short I am acting a lot my 5th grader when it is time to do homework. I didn't do this in college, or when I was teaching, so now that I have a chance to follow my dreams why am I sabotaging myself?

Is this sudden onset of inattention due to the brain-draining effects of having four children? It is a common lament among parents, especially those with more than one child, that the childrearing destroys brain cells rendering formerly well educated, erudite women capable of speaking only in Dr. Seuss rhymes and unable to remember anything of importance for more than 30 seconds.

Or am I instead suffering from the multitasking effects of the digital age? I am as guilty as anyone else of having my laptop in my lap most nights as I sit in front of the TV, half watching some show while I surf the net, answer e-mails, and checking in on Facebook. Perhaps I am merely so in the habit of doing twenty things at once, even during my leisure time, that I no longer remember how to sit and focus on one thing. Whatever the issue is I need to get over it, and quickly.

The other problem isn't really a problem, in fact I think it may eventually become part of the solution. You see I went and signed up for a online writing course. Not a college course, it's more of a workshop really - only one month long, taught by a published author, sponsored by one of the regional chapters of Romance Writers of America (RWA). The trouble is last night I received my first official writing assignment and every time I look at it I break out in a cold sweat. The feeling is strangely reminiscent of the speech class I took in college. The thought of actually letting someone else read my writing makes me want to hurl.

And yes, I totally get that I have been writing all sorts of nonsense here on Cyberbones for a number of years now and lots of people have read it. I know they have because they have commented. I even have 61 people who are fond enough of my writing to declare themselves public followers. All of that is irrelevant. I can write here because I'm not asking you tell me if my writing is any good. I'm not asking for you to grade my work, or check my grammar, even though I know at least one person who reads and occasionally comments is a copy editor. Please don't tell me if I am abusing the humble comma. No wait do tell me, I need to know. No, no I don't! Let me live in ignorance. If I ever manage to write something that I think is good enough to pursue publication then I will worry about things like punctuation. Until then I just need to find the confidence to sit down and write every day. Hopefully this class will give me push in the right direction, assuming of course that I manage to sit still long enough to get some thing written and submitted to the instructor.

In the course of writing this one blog post I have folded two loads of laundry, watched a movie (Letters to Juliet - I LOVE Chick Flicks!), answered the phone three times, made a sandwich, braided my hair, and swept the floor. I think I have a problem.


Kate Husband said...

Oh god I so get this. You speak directly to my soul! I think we are so used to having multiple demands on our attention that when we don't have them, we create them. "Isn't there something else I should be doing?" That's being a mom -- especially a mom who just spent a year homeschooling! I suppose the digital multi-tasking is just more of the same, but without the sense of urgent demand from outside yourself. More of a passive floating from thing to thing. I try making lists -- what I want to do for my creative side and what I need to do for our life and make sure I do some of both. I take notes in my calendar on what I actually accomplish each day (in both categories) so I can kind of see how things balance out.

I have a very dear friend who writes 5 days a week and she swears by her timer. I think she sets if for 40 minutes and makes herself keep writing for that long. Then I think she takes a 10 or 20 minute break. She calls each 40 minute session a "unit" and makes goals for how many units she'll do each day.
I think your nervousness about the class makes sense given that your middle school teacher's red pen was such damaging moment in your writing. Of course you fear another "red pen". Who wouldn't? Just write and decide later whether or not you will read the feedback.
xoxo -

Connie said...

I'll second what Kate says, I'm not writing, but I swear by my timer on days when I can't focus (which can be most days honestly!!) It works for all my to-do's. I use the oven timer... nothing portable that I can cheat on ;D ... 40-45 minutes of doing what I'm supposed to, then I set the timer for 15-20 minutes of reward/goof off/other time. Good luck with your course!

Anonymous said...

YAAY! I'm so excited for you! And what a LAME teacher to kill your dream like that, back in the day. I, too, am totally totally distracted when I try to write. In fact, right now I am "writing a book review" in between reading blogs and checking FB, etc. etc.
Your study sounds AWESOME! Keep us posted on how you do!

Becky said...

I think Kate is probably right on this one. You get so used to being pulled from so many directions. I keep wondering if that intense focus will come back or if it is a change forever. It'll be interesting to see.
I just put 3 of my kids in school full time and one in part day pre school. It's so different. (But it turns out that I really can get stuff done in a day and keep a schedule. I was wondering.)

I like the timer idea. I use when when I have to do jobs I hate. Keep us posted on how it goes!

Monica said...

so hilarious and true. i ditto what everyone else said. i cannot wait to read your first draft. your online course sounds grand. AND you do have ADHD. we all do. ;o)

Just US said...

Your post had me laughing out loud! I was just wondering this same thing about myself. Isn't it funny the things motherhood does to you?!