Inspiration, Censor, Editor, Pet

Inspiration, Censor, Editor, Pet
Miss Mouthy Mouse

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Writing and My ADD Brain

So, the writing is continuing. Prolific, even, if I consider that in the last two weeks I've written my first poem in 23 years, began a new novel, used an excerpt of said novel as a standalone short story, and done about 20 hours of researching. This burst of inspiration has been wonderful, invigorating, and horrible.

Horrible because of my ADD brain. I was only diagnosed two years ago (minus two weeks), so for the first 40+ years of my life, I knew there was something not quite right about my brain--but had no idea what it was. I developed intricate and clever coping techniques to fight my pinging brain and succeeded where others might have failed (just read the ADD books--I didn't go down many of the frustrating paths other adults with ADD have). What I did do was accomplish things by sheer force of will, often making things harder than they had to be, figuratively beating my head off walls, and internalizing many, many things into a self-doubting iv that drips continuously into my psyche.
But, hey, I did it with humor and stories.

 Stories have been a saving grace all my life--both the ones I read and the ones I made up. In the South, if you're telling a story, it may mean that you're lying. I never lied when I was growing up...not much, anyway. Mostly to myself. Does that count?  I digress. Flash forward a few years and here I am WRITING! Just like I've always said I wanted to, and the ADD has kicked in.

We interrupt this train of thought for the following announcement: I want Mexican food, like right now.


Oh, I know...advertisement for ADD and the Writer's Mind:

    ADD & the Writer's Mind: the place where chaos meets creativity and the muse must fight for survival!  LET'S GET READY TO RUMMMMMBBBBLLLEEE!

I liken it to a pinging in the brain--like signals to a cell tower. Ideas and images bounce around, and I've learned to scoop them up and make them march in a line--not even a straight line--just a line is pleasing. 

What's a girl to do? Exhibit A: a kitchen timer.  It's my new pacifier. I've been setting it for 45 minutes at a pop--45 minutes writing, 45 minutes grading, 45 minutes computer surfing/games, 45 minutes housework, etc.

So far, I'm sticking with it fairly well, not as strict as I wish I could, but good enough that I don't feel fratricidal, homicidal, suicidal, genocidal, etc. Non-cidal is good. I suppose the other positive aspect is that I'm WRITING!

My ADD makes me tangential , but it also gives me the ability to generate ideas quickly and scamper through scenarios. My characters and ideas canter along as I'm clutching at the reins with all my might. (I don't ride horses, so I don't know where this horse metaphor came from)  I need to bridle this spastic brain and gently guide it down productive paths instead of letting it run roughshod over me and depositing me into a depression, anger-filled ditch. It's a work in progress, but with therapy, a great prescription med, and patience, I'll get there.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Scurrying Mice and Snowballs in the Back of the Head

So, this is it--the first blog post, of the first blog, of the first foray into the intertubes with my writing. This new adventure has been coming for quite some time. I suppose an introduction and an explanation is in order. After all, as a writing instructor, I teach that there needs to be a hook, so here goes...

I come from a long line of whores.

Hooked yet? Nope? Oh well, I'll just continue anyway, and amuse myself. This blog came about because of a recent literary conference I attended. It was filled with strong, supportive women and a very special dude who formed a mini-community within the space of 48 hours. Each writer/poet/publisher in this community has publication/success in their respective genres--except me. I don't ask for sympathy at all here--I can't be successful if I haven't even tried for publication. 

Yet, they all accepted me and treated me as a peer. For someone who's felt like an imposter in most parts of her life, this was simultaneously terrifying and uplifting. Then IT happened. One of the writers told me that she had been blown away by one of the others--that it had been her "snowball in the back of the head moment," and she'd really been personally inspired and felt validated. 

That sharing, and the workshop she led a few hours later, was my SNOWBALL. She came out of the ether and was real. She'd felt and experienced thoughts and cultural baggage that I do. She spoke of the minutiae of life that we all struggle with. Her story intersects my own, and I saw that I could be her...a writer. But first, I have to finish something. 

That's where the Jarred Mice of the title comes in. In Anne Lamott's essay, "Shitty First Drafts," the most inspiring section is where she speaks of silencing censors by picturing them as mice and then placing them in a glass jar and sealing it. Each semester, I use that essay with my developmental English classes as a way to let them know that their perception of writing as something outside and above their reach is clouded by the "fantasy of the uninitiated."  So now, I must quit being a hypocrite and start jarring my mice. 

Oh, if you're still wondering about the long line of whores'll just have to keep reading.