- by Eileen Dreyer
If you follow the Novelist Inc blog, you will have realized that I posted this about fifteen hours late. It’s not that I didn’t know it was due. It isn’t that I have nothing to say(yeah, like who’d ever believe that?). It’s that I’m on deadline.
Okay, other people have been on deadline and gotten to their scheduled blogs. I’m sure other people have been on deadline, run a half marathon, baked cookies for a fund-raiser, made their kids’ Halloween costumes, blogged and designed a website. Somehow that doesn’t happen so much with me, and I’ll bet there are those of you out there who nod your heads when I say it. They’ll also understand perfectly when I say, “I didn’t know it was Thursday today.”
The truth is, for years I had trouble with schedules, clocks, deadlines, reminders, names. Anything that demanded my undistracted attention. I was notorious for being late for carpool, and even more notorious for being the mom who had all the kids yelling, “Mrs. Dreyer! Mrs. Dreyer! That was our exit.” “Oh, don’t worry,” I’d always say, snapping back to attention. “We’ll catch the next one.” I could write a book, but I couldn’t write a book and remember to do publicity for the last one I’d written. I could either write or publish newsletters. I could either plan a party for my child or remember exactly which day it was really supposed to be on.(Famous response from my son when asked when his birthday was. “Whenever my mom remembers it.”)
As I’m sure you guessed (I seem to have been the last one to figure it out), like Dory in Finding Nemo and Dug in Up!, I have ADD. In fact, my family motto is now, “Squirrel!”. To give you an idea of how bad it can be, I’ve been working on this piece for about twenty minutes, and changed screens to double-check the character names for the films. Twenty minutes after that, after meandering through IMDB, MSNBC, Weatherunderground and Facebook, I accidentally found myself back on this screen, trying to figure out how I wandered off. And I’m on medication.
ADD is wonderful when I’m multitasking. It made me a bang-up trauma nurse. But when I have to slam through a deadline, everything else disappears. It’s part of having ADD. It’s part of ADD that doesn’t go away even on medication(the medication doesn’t eliminate my piles of paper. It does make them smaller). Another famous quote came from my daughter who had her teacher tell her that I’d forgotten to sign a permission slip and needed to take care of it.
“Oh, I can’t do that,” Kate said, sounding distressed.
Of course the teacher’s antennae began to quiver. “You can’t? Why not?”
According to the teacher, Kate leaned closer. “Because my mom has deadline psychosis.”
The teacher was predictably confused. “Deadline psychosis? What’s that?”
At which point Kate shivered in revulsion. ‘It’s like PMS…only worse.”
She was seven. She already knew that when I”m on deadline, nothing else gets done. Nothing.
Which isn’t an excuse for being late. But it is my reason. And I’m sticking to it.