One of the pleasurable things about writing – and fine arts like painting and ceramics – is that you have tangible evidence of your work at its height, unlike cooking, where once the meal is eaten there is no way to go back and truly taste it. To know with certainty that was the silkiest soubise or the most pleasurable tomato soup you have ever eaten or cooked. Or whether that was just the Aperol spritzers talking.
When I read Traveling Between Meals, and in particular the last few entries, I feel so encouraged as a writer that I am without question its most frequent reader. And I keep waiting for this lady to write something NEW, already.
In July of last year, I learned that I have adult ADHD. Not to be too dramatic, but I was one of millions of people all over the world with a crippling neurodivergent condition who don’t even know it.
My diagnosis gave me valuable (though desperately late-in-the-game) insight into why it has been such a struggle for me to FINISH posts for this blog. I have many ideas. I research, travel and report them with joy. But I struggle with the final bit, the writing, editing and posting of them.
Blogs in Purgatory:
As it turns out, trouble completing tasks is right at the top of a long laundry list of troubles for people who have ADHD. Until I was diagnosed and got some insight into the inner workings of my neurodivergent brain, I would regularly berate myself for failing at being a blogger.
Lots of people want to be bloggers, of course, but I had every reason to think I would be great at it. I had been a professional writer for decades! I thrived for more than ten years as a daily print reporter in my early 20’s and 30’s, winning a handful of prestigious awards. I also found success (though little passion) in a second-act career as director of content and public relations at a boutique Chicago PR agency.
So why had I struggled to be my own boss since 2016, when I pioneered what would come to be known as “the great resignation”? The COVID lockdown showed lots of other people what I had already discovered: that doing unfulfilling work is no way to spend a short life. I had summarily quit my job when I realized I would never feel joy writing B2B articles about packaging and telecommunications software. (Impulsivity is another ADHD trait, not always problematic, though some leaps-before-you-look prove more precipitous than others.)
I dreamed up this blog, traveled around the world to Tasmania, Australia, did a lot of reporting, took a lot of photos and videos and then did almost nothing with them. My failure to produce perpetuated a cycle of disappointment and shame that will be all too familiar to other people who have ADHD, especially since these adventures soaked up the time of other people. Having always worked for bosses and companies, who set deadlines and had expectations, I struggled and still struggle to impose structure and accountability by myself.
ADHD coaches and paid accountability schemes are now a thing, but five years of part-time work and full-time struggle have left me with little fiscal room to maneuver. So what I came up with is an autonomous pledge, with only future history’s judgement to enforce it:
Each week I will
(strive?) No, too wishy-washy already!
Each week I will Complete a minimum of tWO posts:
• A postcard (short, doable posts based on images or video.)
• A meaningful make-up blog using up some of the string I gathered and cloth I cut, which I will also forward on to the people who gave me their time.
• I will also set aside a block of time to manage my own social media.
I currently have a half-time job in marketing and PR that just about covers my bills, so devoting myself half-time to two posts and a little social ought to be doable. (And my current PR job, for Naturalist Journeys, is writing about nature travel, probably my favorite kind of travel, so much more pleasurable than writing about packaging!)
I would pledge more, and want to write newer blogs, but I also want to move forward a different project on a parallel track, a hopefully humorous memoir about getting a late ADHD diagnosis and all the painful and rueful realizations that come along with it. There is a grieving process that comes with realizing you’ve only partially lived a life that is already so short to begin with.
I will be posting my memoir project on Medium rather than commingling it with this blog. But if you are interested, I will cross-post those above, under the ADHD menu heading.