Mourning, ADHD, and a release delay
Many people had a really hard 2020, but for me 2021 was far more difficult for many reasons. I don't usually like going into much detail about personal things. But I know there are a lot of others out there who have gone, or are going through, something similar, but also because there are those who wish to understand.
The Vampire Crown (The Vampire Debt book 5) has been pushed back to May 9th 2022. I originally had it releasing in September of 2021. And for a while, it was set for April 2022... So why the additional push?
Frankly, I needed it.
And I knew, if I forced myself to push through and "JUST" write the book, it would be meh.
...That is not to say, that The Vampire Crown will be the best series finale to have ever existed since I pushed it back, but it will be so much closer to the series end that I have been aiming for; and the ending that I, the series, and the readers deserve.
I was diagnosed in early 2021 with ADHD, and I've been pretty open about that part. I've spent a lot of time this year learning about it, and openly sharing information and resources. There is SO much more to it than the old stereotype of a little boy jumping around on furniture and not paying attention. It's not a lack of attention—we can hyperfocus on things that interest our brains the most at any given moment, but, it's not really something we can control.
NT (Neurotypical) brains create dopamine that allows them to "JUST do the thing." However, ADHD brains, don't. What seems like a simple task to any NT can have unseen walls for ND (Neurodivergent) brains: executive dysfunction, or have an overwhelming number of tasks that make it up.
ADHD isn't a lack of focus, it's an inability to regulate focus. We can hyper focus on some insignificant details, say a small portion/group of pixels of a much larger image, wanting to get them perfect, and end up spending hours and hours more than we intended on it. Or we can sit down and want to focus on a thing we need to do, but our brains can be shouting that there are 100 other things on our to do list that need our attention, and every item is equally (though not in reality) as important.
There are a lot of people out there who don't believe that ADHD is real, despite the fact that it is scientifically proven, or that it's something you can grow out of/adults can't have. There is a lot to it and it affects every aspect of our lives.
A lot of ADHDers who are diagnosed later in life will mourn the years we lost by not being treated. It sounds odd, doesn't it? You're finally getting the help you've needed and now you can go forth and "JUST do the thing!" like any NT out there.
I was excited and didn't think I would mourn because, I don't have to lose any more time.
Except... I was wrong. It took about 3 months for it to really hit me. And I did mourn, and it was a process that took me out for several months in a row. I still have days where it hits me, and I don't think those will every truly go away.
People with undiagnosed ADHD will go through life hearing things like "You're just lazy." "You're JUST not trying hard enough." "You JUST don't care enough." "Why can't you JUST DO THE THING?" "I don't want to do 'the thing' either, but I just suck it up and do it." "JUST get up and do what you're told" "What's wrong with you that you can't JUST do the thing?"
As someone on Reddit (I wish I saved the link to the comment) said, "My JUST is broken."
I did mourn. I mourned what I could have done if only people understood ADHD better. The way I was constantly disparaged to the point that it became an internalized thought process of saying "what's wrong with you, JUST do the thing like everyone else."
Shame and insults might eventually force someone to "JUST" but it's far from healthy. People see their constant "You're just lazy" and "You don't don't care enough" and "If you don't 'JUST' then you'll be punished" can get NDs to do what they want/think they should do to not be a garbage person, that they tend to use that as a regular "motivation" tool. Some might recognize it as the harmful technique it is but not care, or might not realize it because they grew up being motivated that way and think it's normal.
But a lifetime of being torn down like that leaves its scars.
We might get back up time and time again, and grow stronger... but we gain that strength in spite of that, not because of that.
Punishment and healing:
I spent time healing, and learning what works for my brain to keep me as focused as possible, but also gave my brain enough freedom to get the needed dopamine.
There is another side of the way my ADHD manifests that I never acknowledged until this year, self-punishment. I'm not the only one, many people who have had a lifetime of being told to "JUST DO THE THING" can sometimes cope with the NT definition of "failure" (to JUST as they want us to).
Punishment can be many things:
I can't eat after I finish this task I spent four hours on already because it only should have taken one.
I can have a day/hour off to rest if I hit my goal.
I can work out to clear my head AFTER I JUST do the thing.
I can take care of myself if I can make myself JUST...
I can sleep AFTER...
And so on. It's definitely not healthy. And in the past if I fell behind, I wouldn't give myself a day, or hour of off time, or I would sacrifice my workouts for a week or two at a time because I "didn't deserve" them if I couldn't do the thing that "everyone else can do with what seems like far less time and effort.
Of course, I never flat out thought these things. It was more "just five more minutes... just five more... I just need five more to finish..." and bargaining "If I give myself five more minutes, then I can finish and then I can do the take care of myself thing." I had to spend time to recognize what I was doing and force myself to actively stop myself from doing them.
Every time I was faced with the decision of "do I have enough time, knowing parts of the process I've struggled with in the past?" and "how much will I anger readers if I don't just push myself—after all, I can just sleep and do take care of myself after release day..." (ADHDers can struggle with sensitivity to rejection or even something that only seems like, but might not actually be, rejection.)
I would stare at the "submit changes" button for hours, feeling sick to my stomach, before I was able to push it and re-figure out my timeline and what steps I could now take to make it that much closer to my vision and standard of quality I have for myself. (Yes, I have impossibly high standards for everything I do, even if it doesn't always show... but that's a whole other blog post, for another time. )
Then... there was the scammer. I got involved with an anthology—a Vampire PNR set that turned into FAIRY TALES with vampires—and too late realized what this person was actually doing, and left the set. Since then, I have asked for my name to be removed from the listing on several occasions. (A task that takes less than 45 seconds to do and hit submit). They've kept my name listed for several reasons, one of which—as stated in their public (at the time) Facebook status— was to be petty.
This in itself isn't usually a big deal to most, but aggression like that can cause the ADHD brain to hyperfocus on those types of thoughts. (Also, something that can happen with someone with anxiety.)
Phew! That was a lot about ADHD.
I received a new diagnosis of having ADHD, and spent this year, mourning, and learning to work with (instead of against) my brain in healthy ways.
It wasn't just the ADHD or the scamming "publisher" that threw off my year leading to the delay of publication.
It's no secret that I've had trouble with finding editors who would actually edit. With every book of this series, I've had to go back over it after the editor I hired. Sometimes this happened after release day (as with book 1 & and soon to be book 3), but sometimes I was lucky enough to be able to do so before release day (books 2 & 4).
Needless to say, every time I had to go back and reedit a book, it has sucked up a large portion of my time causing a delay in the following book that eventually accumulated to hit the final book, and hit hard. I still have to reedit book 3, but with everything, there just has not been the time—which has also lead to a frustrating delay of book 3 and 4 from going into audio production.
...sometimes things are out of our control, and all that's left is to do our best and not punish ourselves for being unable to do more.
Having this issue pop up like this with editor after editor has been exhausting, time consuming, expensive in regards to both money and services traded, majorly disheartening, and emotionally and mentally draining. It was also a disservice to me as the client and to readers.
One thing I did to help make this less of a a difficulty in the future was to take an editing course and earn my certificate. I passed and I learned a lot, but I am not perfect (no editor is), and I am still dyslexic. I will never be perfect, but I will continue learning and studying to improve. Though, I do believe that you should always have a fresh pair of eyes, and self editing is hard because as an author, we know what we meant so it's easy to miss something that might not be clear to readers.
Some people might not understand, being angry and either drop the series (which is fine), send angry messages or emails, or leave 1 star reviews because of the wait. Then there are the people who do understand that writing a book is an art and that the author is a person, and don't mind waiting. And those are the people who are important, and worth treasuring. In the end, sometimes things are out of our control, and all that's left is to do our best and not punish ourselves for being unable to do more. We are all human, and have limitations.
As I sit to write this at the end of 2021, I am moving forward and plan to publish The Vampire Crown on May 9th. It's not something I will guarantee. I want to be kind to myself and to break away from the punishment cycle. If I (and the book) need more time, then I will cross that bridge when I come to it.
From here on out I will be working with my ADHD, everything I've learned, treat myself better, and implement a much different writing and publishing schedule. Most likely it will look similar to drafting an entire series before the first is even up for preorder. However, there will be major differences to such a simple plan. But that is an entirely different blog post for another time.
That's it for now, and I will see you in 2022.