Third Time’s the Charm

Writers have to have thick skins. By putting ourselves out there, we risk the possibility of being told no. It’s easy to take such rejection personally–we put so much of ourselves into our writing that any rejection of it feels like a rejection of us.

But it’s not. Receiving a rejection doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It simply means your writing was not meant for that place, but there are hundreds and thousands of other places it may find a home in.

I have been rejected three times now. I won’t lie, it stings a little, but I try to keep in mind my own advice. I allow myself to be sad for five minutes (okay, maybe more like five hours), and then I try again.

And my perseverance has paid off. I am happy to announce I have just been accepted for the third time! My poem A Day in the Life of Henry VIII, which you can preview here, was accepted by The Copperfield Review and will appear in the Summer 2021 July edition.

As this is a poem I am most proud of, indeed, it may be one of the best poems I’ve ever written, I am beyond happy. And to think, I almost backed out of the query!

If you’re struggling, if you feel like your writing will never be published, if you’re considering giving up–this is your sign not to. Keep going. Keep fighting for your writing.

Your time will come.

ADHD & Writing II

In the first post of this series, I wrote a little of my history with ADHD and why I chose to write about my experience with it. Today, I’d like to write about how ADHD has affected my creativity.

Of course, ADHD isn’t the only thing to blame for my lack of progress in, well, anything. I also suffer from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, which always seem to be at war with each other. Depression likes to tell me I’m not good enough of a writer to be successful, whereas anxiety is always harping at me that I’m not doing enough.

The “good” thing about mental illnesses is that they are cyclical. Some downs last longer than others, but the wheel always turns over eventually. ADHD, on the other hand, is constant. There are no ups and downs, especially not for people, like me, who are unmedicated. ADHD just is.

I’m in a really great place right now with my mental health, but even so, I’m struggling to remain focused and motivated because I still have to contend with ADHD.

I want to talk a little bit about what ADHD is–for me. ADHD, like most things, is a spectrum and we don’t all experience it the same way. ADHD is also fluid. When I was younger, I embodied the “hyperactivity” aspect of it. As an adult, much of that hyperactivity is gone, but that doesn’t mean my ADHD has gone. The hole hyperactivity left behind was filled with something else.

So often, I see people refer to ADHD as a “superpower.” Of course, this usually comes from neurotypical people who have no clue. Yes, my brain may be moving at the speed of light, but that doesn’t mean it lends itself to creative output. More often than not, it hinders it. My brain isn’t just thinking about art, it’s thinking about all the things, all the time.

This is typically where executive dysfunction kicks in the door like the Kool-Aid man. I have a long laundry list of things I’d like to accomplish every day. Cleaning, writing, errands, reading, phone calls, et cetera. Because of ADHD, I struggle to prioritize things, and because I can’t prioritize things, I can never choose something to focus on. So I wind up doing nothing.

And even when I am able to finally settle on something, ADHD still works against me. I get easily distracted and often lose my train of thought. Prime example: it’s taking me twice as long to write this post as it should because my cat has been noisily licking himself and my brain is choosing to focus on that instead.

Have I mentioned that sensory overload is a big component of ADHD? No? Well, I’m mentioning it now.

I also struggle to keep myself motivated throughout tasks. If my interest-based brain doesn’t see any real value in whatever task I’m doing, it quickly, well, loses interest. Even with writing, one of my greatest passions. The payout for writing seems so far out into the future, I often ask myself why I even bother.

But that could be depression talking again. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference; there tends to be a lot of overlap.

Caution; Slippery Floor: A Poem

This is something fun I wrote last night. It was meant to be a serious poem but I lost focus halfway through and it became this. I feel it’s a perfect embodiment of ADHD.

Side note: Richard Siken is one of my favorite poets.

Richard Siken speaks often
of cutting off his head;
I think I might too.
Maybe I could trade it
for another,
try on new brains
like I try on clothes.
Who do I want to be
today?
Let’s see how neurotypical fits.
What is it like to not
be at war
with yourself?
To be able to hold
a thought;
mine are as slippery
as a Minnesota winter.

At least on the floor, my
brain can feed the rats; the
only thing it feeds me is
song lyrics on loop while
I forget, again, to call my
dentist, to pay overdue bills,
to take blood pressue meds–
oh, shit, I left the stove on.

The Forest: A Novel Teaser #2

In April, I talked about my writing goals. I’m happy to say, I’m doing fairly well on them. I’ve written about 1,000 words of my novel (it may not sound like much, but as I’m a slow writer, I think I’m doing fairly well!), and I’ve written a couple new poems. I’ve also been more active on this website. It wasn’t a goal to be, but it’s an achievement I’m proud of anyway.

It’s been almost a year since I shared the first teaser of my novel, The Forest, which is about a young girl who wishes herself into a fairy tale and gets trapped.

Please enjoy this short preview of my novel.

“There’s magic in the world, Gwen,” Papa said, his one hand gesturing towards the open window.

Gwen rushed to see. She wasn’t sure what she expected, but it certainly wasn’t the same, tired scene: The outhouse hidden between two evergreens; the dilapidated truck with the wheels missing and the front fender dented in; the chickens pecking their way across the grass, heckling each other for food. She turned back to Papa with a disgruntled sigh. “Those are just chickens, Papa.”

He laughed. “Well, of course it’s not going to show itself in broad daylight!” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “It’s afraid.”

“Why, Papa?”

Papa patted his knee. “Come here, child.” Gwen took one last look out the window, searching for a quick glimpse of magic hiding in the shadows, or perhaps sitting in her Papa’s old, rusty truck, before running over to climb into Papa’s lap, eager for another of his stories. “Magic is afraid of people.”

“Like you and me and mama?”

Papa pinched her cheek. “Exactly so. When people first came to the world, they were mean to magic. Fairies had their wings cut off. Dragons were put to the sword. So many witches burned at the stake; the sky was black with smoke for an age.”

Gwen felt tears stinging in her eyes. “Why, Papa? Why were people so mean?”

“Because people kill what they can’t understand.”

Traffic Line Romance: A Poem

I was going through my poems and separating things into various folders (I’m stupidly organized in ways that don’t matter), when I came across this gem. I wrote it over a decade ago and still love it. How many writers can say that about their old writing?

A drop falls
and then another.
Falling, falling
across the yellow traffic line.
The ripples slowly
spread outward
like fingers
seeking, seeking
the touch of another.

ADHD & Writing I

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was four years old. Now they typically wait to diagnose children until they’re school age, but in the early ’90s, early diagnoses seemed to be the norm. I definitely had the hyperactivity aspect of it down pat, at least. They were right, though. I’ll turn thirty-one this June and, though I’m not as hyperactive as I used to be, I certainly suffer from many of the other symptoms of ADHD.

  • I stim.
  • I often daydream.
  • I’m anxious about everything and have unexplained mood swings.
  • I suffer from rejection sensitive dysphoria.

The list goes on and on.

My parents told me about my diagnosis when I was in middle school. I don’t know why they waited until then. My dad never wanted me to be medicated, so I’ve been flying solo my whole life. Now it’s just something I’ve learned to live with. I do often wonder what life would be like if I had been medicated. What could my life be like now if I hadn’t had to fight against my own brain for so long?

If I wasn’t still fighting against it every day?

I know I could seek medication and therapy if I wanted to, but growing up with my dad’s aversion to medicine has rubbed off on me. I won’t even take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for a headache unless it’s really bad.

I’m an old geezer and I’m stuck in my ways.

As a teenager and young adult, I never paid any attention to my diagnosis. It wasn’t “a big deal.” It’s only been within the last couple years that I’ve been interested in learning more about ADHD, and I’ve started to be move vocal about my neurodivergence.

Growing up, I thought I was just weird, and I never wanted to speak out about some of the things I did or thought or felt–I was afraid of being judged. Now, I’m not so afraid. Hence, this post, and any subsequent ones that come along.

“ADHD & Writing” will be a short series about what I’ve learned about ADHD and how it’s affected my life. It’s had an especially large impact on my motivation, which is probably why I’m pushing thirty-one and only seriously pursuing a career in writing now. I’m only just beginning to realize how much of my life ADHD has stolen from me, and, honestly, I’m a little offended.

Writing Goals

It’s no secret that the biggest roadblock along my path to success is my lack of self-motivation. Depression, anxiety, and ADHD team up to make sure I rarely have any. Anything I manage to create is done so whenever the fog of mental illness dissipates enough for me to see a little sunshine through the clouds.

I keep trying, though, and for that, I applaud myself. It’d be all too easy to give up for good. But I won’t. Though writing is hard, unbelievably hard some days, it’s still something I love to do, and I think I’d go crazy if I couldn’t write.

I have a couple of writing goals I’d like to accomplish this year. I’m going to record them here for some accountability. By the end of 2021, I would like to have at least 15,000 words of my novel written. I would also like to have my poetry chapbook ready for publication. I plan to go the traditional route first. If that doesn’t pan out, I will consider self-publication.

I’m both excited and not. It’s going to take a lot of work. Depression is telling me I’ll never be able to do it, and anxiety is telling me even if I did manage to finish my chapbook, no one would want to publish it. I wish there was a way to make them shut up forever.

All I can do is try my best. Onward!

A Day in the Life of Henry VIII: A Poem

Na/GloPoWriMo has come out with some interesting prompts these past few days. Yesterday’s prompt to write from the perspective of the dead had me writing about Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. Today’s prompt to write the to-do list of an unusual person or character birthed a Shakespearean sonnet about King Henry VIII.

See below for a short preview.

A Day in the Life of Henry VIII


Whether by ties or death should he sever
them from this most sacred and solemn vow,
he can be assured of his rightful choice
and take such succor as offered him now,
be it food or skin above a rich bodice!
Whoever she be, shall she be my queen
or be hanged for failure to make a king?

To Tell a Fib

I’ve been very casually keeping track of what’s going on over at Na/GloPoWriMo. I haven’t written every day, and what I have written has been off-prompt. I liked today’s prompt, though, which was to write a Shadorma or a Fib. Each are six-line poems with specific syllable counts. The Shadorma syllable count by line is 3/5/3/3/7/5, while the Fib’s syllable count is 1/1/2/3/5/8.

I, naturally, chose what felt like the harder of the two. I like to challenge myself this way; it makes me more conscientious of the language I use, and I think, by doing so, I write better poetry.

Here’s my contribution for today:

opera games

an
act
two-faced
masquerades
or opera games
a riddle behind ivory
peel away the venetian lace
you still won’t see me
I’m hidden
by more
than
masks