Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My name is Amy, and I have LADD

I have literary attention deficit disorder. LADD. I don’t know if this is formally recognized by the psychiatric industry, but I am convinced that it’s real, and that I have it.

I didn’t used to be this way. Back in the day, I’d get a book and read it, then I’d get another book and read it. Life was simple. The pattern was clear: start – finish – start – finish – start –finish.

This is what I’m currently in the process of reading:

  • Daily Rituals, a book about the creative processes of famous writers, philosophers and composers. 
  • An Invisible Thread, the book for my book club that is just starting. This is the first book. We meet in January. It’s a dense book so I felt I had to start now in order to guarantee that I’d get through it in the rush of the holidays. 
  • 2015 Writer’s Market. To see if I can eventually sell any of this crap I churn out. 
  • The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, which got me churning out this crap on a daily basis. 
  • Bird by Bird, a book on writing by Ann Lamott. Because she’s awesome and I’ve wanted to read this forever. 
  • The Paris Review, a literary journal. 
  • The Missouri Review, another literary journal. 
  • A third literary journal, Ploughshares, is waiting in the wings, taunting me. 
  • Fast Company Magazine, which I read for work. I started it there, then stuffed it in my work bag to bring home and finish reading. I have carted it back and forth for two and a half weeks now. Things go in that bag, and they never make it out again. 
  • Two back issues of The New Yorker. This magazine is so tightly packed with good articles that it takes forever to get through one if you don’t have half a Saturday to burn. Note: I never have half a Saturday to burn. 
  • Various articles on writing, photography, parenting, living, etc. that I find on Facebook every day. 
  • A steady intake of website posts (news, writing, photography, blogs), which number around a dozen and include Brevity, The Rumpus, Brain Pickings, and The Bloggess, and sites where I go to dream, such as A Room of Her Own and Hedgebrook

Do I blame this new problem on the internet age? Am I so used to bouncing from article to article, site to site, that I find it difficult to sit down and read one book, one magazine at a time?

I think that’s part of it, but other reasons come into play, too. For instance, I was powering through Daily Rituals pretty well until it just pissed me off. Apparently, according to the daily rituals of most writers, I need to be independently wealthy and have a family who tiptoes around me while I’m writing. This will never happen in a million years. Well, there’s always a slight chance of becoming obscenely rich, but there’s no way in hell my family will ever leave me be while writing. I just had to stop this post to fetch a bathmat for M, as I did laundry last night and it was still in the washer (the last of five loads, I didn’t make it all the way to the end and apparently it’s impossible to end even a single shower without a bathmat…he’s using a towel I got from the linen closet). It wasn’t until I got to the Toni Morrison entry that a Daily Ritual seemed at all realistic. She was a single mom who worked full time, and she had to write in the “in between,” between work and family. She had to sacrifice something, so she sacrificed her social life. Which is just about as depressing as knowing that I’ll never have a small cabin in the woods to which my family will deliver meals and leave me be while I write. So I took a break from Daily Rituals for awhile

The Artist’s Way is just heavy, man. It’s a lot to take in. I read all the introductory stuff, all the touchy-feely stuff about how one mustn’t deny oneself as an artist, and how one should learn to tell the naysayers to go to hell. Then Cameron got on that kick with the Morning Pages, and I thought, “Whoa. This whole process will never work for me if I’m not willing to even do Step 1.” So I sat on it, then I started writing every morning, so then I waded through a bit more. It’s good, so I’m back into it, when I feel like reading about what I need to do to be a better writer and to get unstuck when I am stuck, which, it turns out, is a regular occurrence with writers. At least for those of us who have whole lives outside of our writing (work, laundry, family, meals…and nary a writing shed in sight).

The 2015 Writer’s Market is a two-inch thick directory with lots of helpful articles in the front on how to pitch your work, how to follow-up, etc. It is basically reading about a lot of work, and, while helpful, it’s not particularly inspiring. So I put that down after about five articles and flipped to something creative, something I’d classify as brain candy.

Which is what An Invisible Thread is supposed to be, and is, which is great except that I also want to savor the crap out of it and really, truly read it, so as to be able to discuss it with my friends in January. Given the sheer amount of words I am ingesting on a daily basis, I worry that it won’t stick, that I’ll get to January and look like I haven’t read the damn thing at all and am just showing up for the wine (which isn’t out of the realm of possibility for several of us, to be honest).

I need to either sit down and just plow through some of these things, one by one, to get them off my nightstand (and the end table next to my chair in the great room, and my desk in the project room, and out of my bag), or I need to quit my job so I can read and write all day and half the night.

Maybe I need to find and start reading a book on how to instantly become independently wealthy.

Eh, nevermind. I’d probably never finish it.


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