Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's Been That Kinda Day

(cc) Douglas Cootey - Bad Day


I'm not going to complain. It was a productive day considering the chaos that went on in my kitchen.

The problem is the toll it had on me. Let me explain.

I'm not a creature of habit as much as I wish, but I have trained myself to write at the kitchen table. When I sit there to work, I don't wander off to watch TV or traipse into the living room to find a good book. I work.

I write blogs, articles, and novels on my MacBook at the kitchen table. I do design and coding on my Mac mini in the studio. I even have different apps installed on each machine. It works for me.

Sometimes I succumb to the siren call of HTML and click on certain links. You know the kind. Hot, steamy, sticky news links. The more revealing & controversial the better. As entertaining as that can be, it doesn't help me get anything done. So I got all geeky on my hosts file last night and locked myself out of my favorite news sites for today's writing session.

I was going to pounce on that ADDaboy! article like a cat on a mouse and make short work of it. I woke up, read news on my iPhone (yeah, pathetic), then entered the kitchen. Just as I finished eating, the landlord dropped by. I had already missed him earlier this morning when he replaced our garbage disposal. Now he was back to replace the dish washer.

I'm not complaining. Who would complain about getting new kitchen appliances? Not, me. But I was colossally unproductive. First, I took hours to get going on the article, and then as I began to build up a psuedo-momentum the kids came home. It was an early-out day.

So my afternoon became: feed the kids, ignore the installation noises, deal with the kids, ignore the installation noises, deal with the kids, help the landlord, discipline the kids, ignore the installation noises, troubleshoot Photoshop CS3 & OS10.6.3 for an hour, troubleshoot the kids, etc. The landlord was in and out. My kids were in and out. My focus was in and out.

When I finally posted the article for publication in the morn, 3½ hours had passed and that didn't count the "getting started" time. When I think of my hourly rate on that article, I cry a little.

I know what's at fault. It's ADHD as usual, but there's a part of me mad at myself. Why didn't I lift up the MacBook and move into the living room? Couldn't I have done that? Was that so difficult? Apparently, it was. I was so focused on focusing that I didn't think creatively. I fought with myself throughout the entire day, forcing myself to focus under the present conditions. That is both the strength and weakness of ADHD's hyperfocus ability. We accomplish goals by hyperfocusing, but we lose awareness of other priorities.

Now it's 8pm, and I'm supposed to work on my novel, and I'm mentally fatigued. But I'm not complaining. I finished the article.

I just wish that in this I could be more like the productive powerhouses I admire. To go from point A to point B without going for a swim with Z in the alphabet soup. Non-ADHD people tell me all the time "Oh, everybody has that problem." No. You don't. I watch you. I see your productive lives and your lists of accomplishments. I watch you do the things you set out to do. I always seem to do the things I didn't set out to do, and every once in a while it discourages me.

But I'm not complaining.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Falling Short. Standing Tall.

(cc) Douglas CooteyI wasn't able to make all my goals. I'm afraid micromanaging children then ticking got in my way. Still, I'm happy I did this. I knew I was biting off more than I could chew, but the challenge pushed me and made me want to taste the success. There is still time to my evening, but I need to wind down to preserve my sleep schedule. I'll post a new list tomorrow for another high stakes game of public failure or success.

One last thing. It is with great relief that I can write that I mailed the contract off. They mailed it to me almost one month ago. I didn't realize how long it had been. Yes, I've been sick and neurologically offline a lot, but three weeks? I forgot to check my mail, got the contract but lost it, then found it days later only to forget about it for five days. Then I couldn't find my old contract to transcribe the addendum onto the new contract. What a fiasco—like a clown circus complete with pies and seltzer water.

Do you think it's too soon to ask for another assignment?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Petals and Other Things

Spring Petal (cc) Douglas Cootey


Ah, Spring is in the air.

And eyes.

My eyes, specifically. They feel as if they've been coated with Vaseline's new Beach Sand & Jalepeño lotion.

Thankfully, I have learned the wonderfully soothing balm of eye rinses and Claritin D. My problem today is that I forgot to take the Claritin D.

ADHD is murder on healthcare.

Despite moving through tar filled vats of sluggish apathy, I managed to write today in #snkrz. Not too soon after I decided that I just had to write the thing and stop rewriting chapter one, I found a flaw that required a rewrite of chapter one. I worked on that today, fleshed out new conversations, and finally felt the story start to gel.

It was a good day.

I feel, however, that it could have been a better day if I wasn't so sick and out of it all the time. I spend an awful lot of time being sick. In fact, I haven't left my home since Saturday. There is a chance my new CPAP is still trying to kill me. I'll up the back pressure tonight to see if that makes a difference.

Quick on the heels of insomnia, health, not ticking or ADHD, is my greatest obstacle. I am constantly under the weather. Run down. Unhealthy. Tired. I had hoped poor health was a result of poor sleep, but no such luck.

This is why I am so thrilled to enter Spring. The healthy months are ahead of me. Exercise and hiking and riding my bike and just getting out and enjoying the world are all possible once the weather stops slapping me around. I imagine greater writing opportunities lie ahead as well.

Of course, now that I'm diurnal, I need to get my pathetic mass up and going in the morning. My news addiction is stealing so much time, especially when I'm an undead, sickly zombie. When I undertook this project, I truly did expect better results than this. I'll need to step up my productivity if I want to finish my goals.

Therefore, tomorrow will be a better day. I have to finish the following, and I'm going to draw a line in the sand by publicly stating what you can expect me to complete by the end of the day. If you don't see an update by 9pm beaming with productive goodness, then you can leave me mocking comments here. I'll deserve them. After all, am I serious about overcoming my obstacles and becoming an author or not?

  • This blog


  • Audio comment for ADDaboy!
  • New ADDaboy! article on Twitter and ADHD
  • Daddy duties by the hatful ✔✔✔✔✔✔
  • Vlog for ADDaboy!
  • Email three agents
  • 1000 words in #snkrz
  • Start Words Per Day research article for Friday publication
  • Mail the stupid contract already



Monday, March 22, 2010

Learning to Talk Like a PI

Amazing visual angleI recently discovered the TV series “Peter Gunn”. Although there are a few dated episodes in there with beatniks, I mean, really dated, man, but are we ever truly dated? Aren’t we all ageless? You, me, the world…all just one big trip going round and round…

Sorry. I was feeling the moment.

Although there are a few dated episodes in there, the storytelling stands up well to today’s standards, making me realize how cutting edge the show was when it aired in 1959.

From stark lighting to dramatic camera angles, visually the show is stunning to watch. Blake Edwards gave 1959 TV audiences film noir in weekly half hour installments. The jazz score by Henry Mancini adds to the memorable experience as well. It’s a top quality soundtrack that had me contemplating buying an old LP off Amazon.

Peter and EdieWhat stands out for me in the show is the dialog—classic savvy Hollywood dialog in that scripted way that isn’t real, but you wish was. It’s a form of dialog you generally only find in detective shows or Hugh Grant movies. I find the banter between Peter and his girlfriend, Edie, terribly witty especially. They are characters with no real insecurities, making plays on each other’s words in a carefree, clever manner.

I wish I could say that I have been most influenced by the witty language of love, but for me the cheeky stuff is what causes a twinkle in my eye. So much so that I started collecting my favorites.

“Now you’re getting so dumb, I’m going have to take you out for walks and hold your hand in the market.” - Rocky from The Rockford Files

“If I was on fire, I wouldn’t hire him to throw water. We don’t get along.” - Jim Rockford from The Rockford Files

“Look, there’s an official explanation on your desk, Hanson. In English. Read it before you start climbing my back.” - Lt. Jacoby from Peter Gunn

And more recently from Castle:

Beckett: Wait, there’s a sex scene in the book? Between us?
Castle: There’s a sex scene between Nikki Heat and the roguishly handsome reporter who’s helping her.
Beckett: Oh, good. So he’s nothing like you.

Esposito: Who would steal a dead body?
Castle: Oh plenty of people. Organ harvesters, cadaverless med students, satanists, mad scientists looking to create their own monster…

Castle: (To Beckett about marriage) You’d be good at it. You’re both controlling and disapproving. You should really try it.

Quotes from http://www.tvfanatic.com/quotes/characters/rick-castle/


The secret to witty dialog is that the characters’ emotions don’t get in the way. They remain aloof and cool no matter what happens to them. In fact, snappy dialog can only happen when characters aren’t worried about getting dumped or fired or punched in the nose. This is because their writer sits safely away from the situation thinking of terribly clever repartee for them to shoot out like bullets. In real life, we are the writers and we don’t remain aloof very well. Consider online chat rooms, Twitter, discussion boards, etc. where cooler heads never seem to prevail and invectives fly out of the ether with chunks of keyboard.

Keeping in mind what a hothead I tend to be, I greatly admire the detectives and PIs of TV Land with their wonderful combo of subzero cool and fiery wit. Every time that one guy on my Twitter stream uses the ugly & disrespectful “teabagger” slur, my blood boils, steam comes out of my ears, and I say… nothing. I have no clever rejoinder. For fear of opening my mouth too widely, I shut it tighter.

I imagine that ADHD and my hair-triggered impulses have taught me over the years to button my lip or I’d regret it. But the characters in my book don’t have ADHD. They can be as rapid fired in their quips as I want. Today I’m looking forward to tweaking the dialog in my story with more sparkle. Even if the characters involved are only 12, there’s still room for cheeky wit if my own daughters are any indication.

Instead of worrying about the rules, I just want to worry about writing. I want my writing to be as fun to read as these detective shows have been to watch & listen to. So I will keep the ADDaboy! article short and sweet today, rapidly film the next vlog, and tear into my novel later today like a sugar addict in a donut shop.



I do have another twitter stream that is quieter and more writing focused as opposed to mental health/distraction focused. It’s @DouglasCootey. You’re welcome to follow me there.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Embarrassing Social Graces in a Speedo

ADDaboy!


Of all the things that could have happened to me in a speedo while lying by a pool next to a cute, blonde girl, this will probably seem harmless, but it sure made an impression upon the blonde. When we hooked up years later on Facebook this was one of the first things she told me. The other was, "About that $50 you owed me…"

ADHD Memories in Brief
She and I were chatting by the poolside when I decided to drop my shorts…


ADHD in action. Enjoy!

Playing Fetch with My Mind



What is it they say about how life comes in threes?

Oh, yeah. "Life comes in threes."

I'm glad I looked that up. It was so much more complicated than I remembered.

I've moved from illness to new CPAP fatigue to seasonal allergies and I haven't even left the state. So much excitement right here in Utah. I wouldn't mention it except for the fact that this is supposed to be a blog about writing, and so far it's a blog about how I don't write. I'd like to change that today. Truly, deeply…

Here's what I'm going to do. As Dan Willis mentioned to me on Tuesday, I have ADD like a puppy. It's alright. He's an author. They like to use similes. Besides, I enjoyed the imagery of seeing my attention romp about with its tongue wagging too much to be offended. Anyways, what was I saying?

Right. Here's what I'm going to do.

First, I'm laying down an edict to my kids. No TV today. I need it serene and quiet. Murder and mayhem will be off the schedule today as well.
Second, I'll put some instrumental music on.
Third, I'm going to blog, even if it's pointless. So far, so good.
Fourth, if my brain is still racing out across the lawn to play fetch with distractions, I'll go exercise.
Fifth, I'll use a metaphor.
Six, I'll boot into my isolation room and write in #snkrz for an hour.
Seven, I'll be horrendously distracted by dinner, children, cleaning, homework, children, noise, and children.
Eight, I might write again.

Here goes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Feeling Good

I attended Karen Hoover's book launch party tonight. Her book, The Sapphire Flute, now resides on my bookshelf awaiting my eager eyes.

I workshopped a chapter of this book in Brandon Sanderson's WIFYR class two years ago. I remember liking it, so I'm looking forward to seeing how Karen has tightened and improved the writing.

I also had a chance to catch up with author Dan Willis. We used to be neighbors and even worked on a start-up game company together in the early 90s. As he mentioned tonight, I am usually busy when we bump into each other. This time it was a pleasure to have a leisurely conversation with him from politics to book business. Dan's three books are out of print now due to downsizing at Wizards of the Coast. I was sincerely disappointed for him.

I am constantly surprised how little I am threatened by the success of other authors. In fact, seeing Karen's book come to life, and hearing Dan talk about his fourth book, invigorated me. I can't wait to get at my own book in the morning.

In fact, I should stop typing away in my iPhone and shut my eyes. More can be said tomorrow, but tonight I must try to save my sleep schedule.


Sent from my iPhone


Update: The title of the book has been corrected. My apologies to both sapphire and silver flutes for the confusion.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Coming Up for Air

There are really only a few things I accomplished this week. I spent my mornings with my newly graduated eighteen year old, spent the afternoons driving kids about, and spent the time in between being sick & exhausted.

It all started when I replaced my CPAP with a bright, shiney new one on Tuesday. The old one was ten years old and occasionally failing. One would think that I would be happy. Unfortunatley, it appeared that my new CPAP was trying to kill me.

Oh, I know it's supposed to help me breathe, but it was doing the polar opposite. Perhaps I offended it in a previous life when I was incarnated as a tempermental electrical outlet. All I know is that I'm waking up each morning feeling like I have been scaling a glass building all night long with nothing but a suction cup and my tongue.

I'm also sick, which isn't helping.

Overall, being sick & tired is rather boring. I'm as tired of this phase of my life as you are likely fatigued reading about it. Here's hoping tomorrow brings new adventure.

Earlier in the week I finished chapter one of #snkrz. Then I began chapter two and realized I had altered my story so far off the notes that I either needed to adapt to the new direction or I would need to rewrite chapter one. Seeing how the new direction led me into a bog and hit me over the head with a bat, I'll opt for rewriting.

In the meantime, I'm happy to announce that Stage Two of my blog redesign has been completed. I hope you like the visual upgrade. Next stage involves tweaking here and there with spiffy graphics and arcane CSS wizardry until I'm happy with the final results, but only after I get some more writing done.


Sent from my iPhone

[Updated to remove evidence of sleepy typing]

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Not So Serious History of AD/HD

Ever hear those anecdotal stories about how JFK had ADHD and how Albert Einstein had ADHD? As a young adult dealing with a brain on the fritz I was too skeptical to really believe those stories. After all, Attention Deficit Disorder didn't exist as a diagnosis until 1980.

Then I looked into the matter for my ADDaboy! blog. I had heard that the DSM-V might relabel ADHD entirely and that prompted a look into how the condition had been diagnosed over the past century.

It's not as funny a read as my driving article this week, but I kept the tone lighthearted. You shouldn't fall asleep too deeply while reading it:

AD/HD - What's in a Name?
ADHD type behavior has a long history of not quite fitting with the label applied to it. Now there's talk of a new label for ADHD diagnosis. What's it all mean?


I'd love to know what you think of the article. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

ADDaboy! - Can Anger Be Funny?

After revealing my dark, secret verbal abuse issues on the highways of Utah, I hope that people can chuckle at them with me. My last article over at ADDaboy! had my wife in traction from laughter. If I doubted even once in the past 21 years that I married the wrong person, it was removed then. You don't know me as well as she does, but perhaps you will find it humorous, too:

ADHD Frustration - Get Out of My Way or I Shall Taunt You a Second Time
I skirt through traffic like a hyperactive kid in a pod racer.

Then I bump into somebody going 5mph slower than the stated speed who likes to brake for dust motes, or maybe they are on a cell phone and driving erratically, or they suddenly decide as I come up on them that THEY and THEY ALONE must be in front. These people irritate me in visceral ways that ignite the megaton nuke inside my mind.

And then I open my mouth.


If you have anger & frustration issues due to ADHD, I'd love to know your thoughts on my new article. Please pop on over and leave a comment.

Sleepy Thoughts That Keep Me Up

Errands, ADDaboy! & family claimed Monday. Even with a good night's sleep I will have my work cut out for me with this project.

I continue to maintain a diurnal schedule. This is odd, yet pleasing. Funny to me is how few people in my online life realize what a monumental change this has been for me.

In fact, my online life has lost its savor of late. I am writing more frequently, and more successfully, than ever before with fewer comments and feedback. Many people turn their nose up at Facebook, but I have received far more support there than on Twitter where I am one voice of many, and an insignificant voice at that. Over 870 followers there, and over 530 subscribers here, yet only a miniscule amount of people are inspired to comment.

I can't help but think this is a good thing. My need for feedback at every step is just the manifestation of my low self-esteem—something I need to stamp out if I am to succeed.

I also realize that my blog and life stream is more personal now. This means I am even more niche than before, and I am competing with the personal lives of all my readers. If they don't comment, then I am simply not compelling enough.

And now I am finally tired. Tomorrow I have one more ADDaboy! article to finish and then I can work on #snkrz. I am looking forward to finishing chapter two.

Sent from my iPhone

(Updated: I edited the email formatting to fix the text flow)

Saturday, March 06, 2010

ADDaboy! - It Was a Good Idea Anyway

Remember that time I sold my minivan and left my spare keys in it and snuck into the car lot after hours to try and get them back because I had locked myself out of the house at 3am? Ah, such nostalgia. Never fear, though. There is no more perfect way to celebrate a smartypants article about how to prevent losing things like locking yourself outside AND the minivan because you left your keys in the other jacket. Head on over to ADDaboy! where I wrote about My Life as an ADHD Sitcom. It's OK. Go ahead and laugh. I did.

I'm wrapping things up here and heading on over to the library to work on next week's ADDaboy! articles or to write in my novel, which is more likely to happen. I had a very bad neurological day yesterday and achieved nothing of import except to get into arguments with half of my family. My wife & girls often assume I'm a jerk first before thinking "Oh, hey. He's not doing so well today." Most families don't understand neurological disabilities. Even mine. Nothing I can do about it. I'll just make sure the articles are finished before Sunday eve.

In the meantime, are you enjoying the snow? Winter seems to have made a comeback yesterday, as well as my cold, but Spring is determined to be victorious. I saw crocuses emerging from the earth on Thursday and heard a mourning dove bright and early today. Yes, that was me up at 9am on a Saturday morning. Now to don warm clothes and brave the sunny March snowdrifts. Spring is yet determined to send Winter packing, but I hear Winter has another wallop coming tomorrow.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Splintered Books Project Update #1


SplinteredMind03a.png (cc) Douglas CooteyI’ll go ahead and refer to this as the first very most official update for my Splintered Books Project. I have been a busy boy this year. So busy that I don’t even recognize myself. If you have been following me from the beginning of this blog, have you ever known me to write so much? I am determined to succeed despite myself, however, so onward I press and to Outer Darkness with the hang-ups I’ve been held back by. Let’s take each item one by one:


ADDaboy!
After a somewhat rough beginning, and a video blog that was two weeks late, I seem to have discovered a rhythm. I produce the following week’s articles each Friday. I write them up, edit them, photograph or add a graphic, add the tags & SEO goodness, then schedule them to publish at their appointed hour and day. I’ve done this two weeks in a row now, and I am looking forward to doing it again tomorrow.

As I feared, the ADDaboy! blog began to take over my writing time, but this new schedule is allowing me to spend six days worry free. Next step is to spend every day next week working on my current novel.

Insomnia
One side-effect to being so productive since the start of the year was that I sacrificed sleep to pull it all off. I’ve been sick with a handful of viruses, in my not so anecdotal opinion, as a result. Clearly I could not continue this way. You may recall my “Enough Is Enough” post from a few weeks ago. I have spent most of the past four weeks changing my sleep schedule.

The first step was to change how I felt about sleep. I intellectually understood that sleep was necessary, but the panic over deadlines and work left unfinished, or even the thrill of a new distraction, always seemed to justify pushing sleep off day after day. In order to convince myself that sleep was crucial, I began by first telling myself every night that it was alright to sleep. Then I began letting myself sleep a full “night” instead of shaving off the time each “morning”. After two weeks of that I began to force myself to bed at 5am.

Then I became sick again.

This was the absolute best thing that could have happened. With my new mindset that sleep was necessary, I let myself sleep when my body told me to despite what I still had left unfinished. One night last weekend I fell asleep at 9pm. Since then I’ve been waking at 6:30am every morning. Even with a slight setback last night, I still awoke at 7:30am.

I’ve held off blogging about it until I was sure. I’ve come close before only to lose it all after a few days. Tomorrow will be a week. I’m diurnal now. I couldn’t be more thrilled. It is a milestone to be remembered. From here on everything will change.

Writing
The end result of all this is that I’m sitting in an IHOP at 12:44pm after a full morning of running errands and I’m writing. With two serious obstacles overcome by the end of February, maybe my Splintered Books Project isn’t a mere vain hope.

In January I finished an easy reader called “Take a Hike!” (#tkahk) and prepared it for the gauntlet of rejection. Agents submitted to? Four. Rejections? One. I will submit the manuscript to three more agents today. Then tomorrow I begin researching publishers. It’s not a story I intensely care about and only represents two months of my life. I am using it as a means to practice contacting agents and editors, as well as to numb myself to rejection for the manuscripts I do intensely care about.

(cc) Douglas CooteyI also wrote and sold an article to ADDitude Magazine for their Summer issue. I have also submitted a headshot for them. I will answer a question each issue for their Contributor Chat. I am both honored and puzzled, but I’m not so puzzled that I can’t see an opportunity when it provides itself even if I am not remunerated for it.

My next project used to be called “Sneaker’s Secret” and “The Secret Life of My Cat, Sneakers”, but the work has undergone so much transformation I have no idea what to call it other than the hashtag of #snkrz. My first chapter was trapped in the eternal limbo of revisions until last week. I suppose I just became bored with getting nowhere with the story. Thank you, ADHD. I pushed beyond the troubled scene and look forward to finishing the first chapter today. In fact, perhaps I should wrap this up and get on. It’s a half day and I will need to don my Daddy hat very soon.

Eggs
Lastly, the most important achievement for me was reached two days ago: I taught myself to poach an egg. Julie Powell has nothing on me. Beware New York. I am coming.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Forgot to Mention My ADDaboy! Blogs. You'd Think I Had ADHD or Something…

I've been so busy living that I've forgotten to let you folks know about my latest blogs over at HealthyPlace.com.

Well, OK. So I only lived yesterday, but it was intense living albeit the short variety. More on that later…

For now, take a gander or a goose over at this:

5 ADHD Reasons Why I Never Get Anything Done - And one of them isn't Twitter.

There is a strong chance that I may not get most of my ToDo list checked off today. In fact, any day of the week that ends with the same three letters is likely to be such a day.

It all goes downhill from there.


ADDaboy! the Vlog: ADHD in Motion - Yes, they want me to vlog for them. I think they're crazy, too. It's silly stuff, but you may find a kindred spirit within the streaming zeros and ones.




I Weigh in on ADHD and Exercise - Regrettably, I have an awful lot of weight to throw around on the subject.

I read an interesting article over at ADDitude Magazine the other day. Dr. John Ratey (of Hallowell & Ratey’s Distraction series) reported on the success Jackson, one of his patients, had with exercise in treating his ADHD. Jackson was able to treat ADHD and Depression with an intense running regimen, even taking himself off medications completely. Could others experience the same results?


If you can, please leave comments over there. It makes me look almost successful and stuff. In return for the favor, I'd gladly reciprocate. Just leave a link to your blog post here. Hopefully, that isn't too confusing.
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