After revamping this newsletter to focus on joy and happiness and magic then updating regularly for five months, I disappeared. While this is absolutely a stock move from the ADHD playbook, it had less to do with the immediate effects of my disease and more to do with needing more space and time to process the previous 40 years or so of my life pre-diagnosis and medication. There’s an adage in Alcoholics Anonymous to avoid making any big life decision for a year after you first become sober because it takes at least that long to properly come to terms with who you were and what you did under the influence of the disease. Well, it’s been almost exactly a year from when I was diagnosed and started the healing process and that seems about right.
Aside from addressing the trauma issues and fallout from everything with my therapist, the main thing we’ve been working on is building consistency and balance into my life. This has not been easy for me. Even on medication, I noticed I was still prone to procrastination and still more comfortable working in obsessive streaks followed by chunks of laziness and depression. That’s no way to live a life, so I’ve had to work on breaking those large tasks into smaller tasks and finding consistency in even the smallest aspects of my life. I tend to appreciate patterns and routines in my life, but that hasn’t helped all that much.
A big part of working through this for me has been looking at the big picture of life rather than the immediate moment. Take household projects for example. Before, I would hope for lottery windfalls or major career windfalls to provide a big chunk of money that I could use to take care of all of the projects around the house as once. But now I realize I can pick one project, do it myself, and even if it takes me all summer to do one project, by next summer I’ll be able to move on to the next project and so on. Even if it takes a decade to do it all, it’s better to look back ten years from now at all I did instead of being ten years older and wondering why I never had the opportunity to do everything around the house I wanted.
The same with writing novels. I would get frustrated at the slow timeline of writing a novel, then editing a novel, then selling a novel, then publishing a novel. I got so down about it all and freaked out that I was never going to have enough time to do it, but here I am almost ten years since finishing my last solo novel and even with the glacial pace of publishing, I could have had a couple more novels out at least if I’d focused less on the enormity of the problem and more on the day-to-day aspects of getting it done. Despite having a family, a day job, and other responsibilities on top of trying to build a writing career, there are plenty of hours in the day to do everything I need to do plus everything I want to do if I plan it properly.
My kryptonite both personally and creatively. I’ve always prided myself on my spontaneity and my ability to adapt on the fly, but always living on the edge and never knowing what’s going to happen next is no way to make the most of my limited time on this earth. I started planning my life and my creative work grudgingly at first, but over time, I saw that not only was I more successful and more productive, my stress level went way down.
I wish this letter was full of emotionally-charged inspiration for you or life-changing insights to drive your own creativity, but sometimes we need the banality of common sense reenforced for us when we get too far inside our own heads or lives or processes. Boredom is a trait lost to this generation and I think it’s time to bring back respect for boredom and for the basics. Everything doesn’t have to be revolutionary or disruptive.
What I’m Reading: I just finished two great books, Play the Fool by Lina Chern and The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz, and I’m currently reading Everyone in my Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson and loving it.
What I’m Watching: I was one of the many people sucked into Suits on Netflix this summer and I’m shocked I never watched it when it originally aired. But it was just what I needed during some difficult moments this summer. I’ve also been watching the Martha’s Vineyard mystery movies on the Hallmark Channel. These are a bit less airy and frilly as some of the other Hallmark Mystery Movies and I’ve enjoyed them. In the theater I saw A Haunting in Venice and The Royal Hotel and enjoyed both of them in very different ways. I’ll likely be taking my girls to see the Taylor Swift movie this weekend. I’ve started buying more media in physical format lately because it seems more and more of the things I want to watch aren’t available for streaming.
What I’m Writing: I’m almost halfway through a book I started about a year ago that was originally intended to be a straight up category cozy, but has morphed into something more akin to an Agatha Christie novel. Still funny and light, but with a bit more depth. And still very much me. I read an article recently that talked about a burgeoning trend toward cosy (not cozy) mysteries and I couldn’t be happier if it’s true. We’re living in dark times and sometimes books need to be an escape not something that adds more darkness to the world. I took some time off from generating new words to go back and rework the first 30k or so of the book to make it more in line with the new direction. My hope is still to have a good draft done by the end of the year.