When I started this blog, I decided to have an underlying theme of Boldness in the Face of Anxiety. It was actually what my first article was about. The main reason was, and still is, to help and encourage others suffering from anxiety. But there’s also another one…
With my anxiety comes fear. And not just any fear—fear of judgement. I choose my words very carefully when I write my articles and even more so on Twitter. With the slightest misstep comes the possibility of ridicule.
There was a lot of Twitter-talk last week on the topic of discrimination in the publishing world, particularly around neurodivergent writers. This threw an alarming uneasiness into my system. While I don’t have an “official” diagnosis of ADHD, I do exhibit many of the characteristics. Most of the time, I can figure out ways around the obstacles I encounter, but the one I fear the most is the hurtle I can’t get over—the fact that I’m a slow AF reader.
You might think, “That’s it? Who cares if you can’t read fast?” An agent, possibly. Writers are expected to be well-read with a long list under their belt. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read lots, and do so every day, but my “finished” list is considerably shorter than most writers, I would wager.
Back in January, I told you about my struggle with reading in my elementary years, which is likely the reason for my lack in speed, but that’s not the only reason why my “read” list is so short. I have to like the book, and I mean really, really like it to finish it. Two weeks is super-fast for me to get through a decent-sized novel—most of the time it takes me a month (or even more if it’s a really long one).
Because it takes me so long, I have to seriously be “into” the book to spend the necessary time to complete it. That’s probably why I tend to shy away from literary prose. I agree that the words are beautiful, but half the time I don’t understand the message the author is trying to say. I much prefer the straight-up, this-is-what-happens, feel-with-the-character stories.
To complicate things even further, my concentration while reading isn’t the best…okay, fine, it sucks. I need things quiet and still. The smallest noise or movement can take me out of the story (however, the more “into” a book I am, the more I can drown out), which is frustrating. Think Doug—SQUIRREL!—the dog from Up.
All those components added together equal a rather short, finished reading list. I’m trying to get better, but if I’m being honest, it feels like a losing battle (but I’m stubborn, so I’m going to keep fighting). One of my biggest anxieties is being at a writers’ gathering and not having read the book others are talking about—Pride and Prejudice is the latest victim. I’m not even going to try to fake my way out of it. If I can get away with simple observance, I will; if not, I’ll admit I haven’t read it…usually with a nervous laugh.
You might be thinking at this point, “Gee, it sounds like she may have ADHD.” At least that’s what I thought. But the psychologist that evaluated me said it’s anxiety, not ADHD—still don’t how anxiety contributes to my slow reading speed, though. And anyway, it’s just a name; having an official diagnosis isn’t going to miraculously make me a better reader. I work with the hand I was dealt. So, if any agent is reading this, this is what you’ll get from me…the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I’ll only give up when I die.
And that leads me back to the beginning of this article. I share my trials to help those who experience similar challenges know that they are not alone, but I also do it to help myself grow. We live in a cruel, unforgiving world, and the more people know your work, the greater the chances for harsh criticism. We need to be prepared because judgement is coming, and I, for one, plan to be ready.
‘Til next time!