Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Keep your Focus

How to Draw a Picture (Part 6)
(Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King)

Keep your focus. It's the difference between a good picture and one more image cluttering up a world filled with them...

Some questions I have never answered to my satisfaction, but I have drawn my own pictures and I know that when it comes to art, it's perfectly okay to paraphrase Nietzsche: if you keep your focus, eventually your focus will keep you.

Sometimes without parole.

It is a bit of a misconception that the ADD afflicted cannot focus. As a matter of fact, I have found myself so focused on a particular project that everything else simply goes undone. My struggle is not to stay focused, but to un-focus long enough at the task at hand to attend to all the other things that demand my attention.

I used to be an avid scrapbooker. The maternal instinct kicked in and I felt compelled to document every major and minor moment of my first born's life. This just so happened to coincide with an invitation to a Scrapbooking home party invite given to me by a friend from church. I had never heard of such a thing, but once I saw it, I was hooked.

I had to stop scrapbooking. It consumed me. While everyone else was putting together entire scrapbooks in record time, I became so obsessed with creating the perfect page for a particular picture or set of pictures that I would literally stay up all night until I got it just right. While my friends simply found a few stickers and/or coordinating papers and called it a day, that just wasn't enough for me. Mine had to be a perfect representation of my emotional connection to the moment in which the picture was taken.

I am mostly ADD with some shining OCD moments. Allow me to give you a couple of examples:

Those are just three examples. On almost every page, I painstakingly recreated one or more elements in the picture. At the rate I was going, I would have my son's baby pictures finished by the time he graduated high school. I just got overwhelmed by it. I still take pictures of my kids. My daughter wants to do her own scrapbooks. At almost 8 years old, she has given me every indication that her creative prowess puts her mother to shame. So, I'm all for that.

Fast forward to May 2008. I didn't even know what a blog was until I read my friend and pastor Jeff's blog. What a difference a year and a couple of months can make. What started as an outlet for my outright silliness and occasional prosperity gospel rants has turned into something so much more. It is a community. Some blogs are strictly informational. Mine could hardly be called that on my best day. My husband told me his favorite part of my blog is reading the comments. I tend to agree. I know I have many readers who rarely or never leave comments. I have some readers who only stop by on Mondays, and that's okay, too.

So what's my focus right now? Writing. My own and the writing of people who actually know what they're doing. Because it's not enough to be good or even great. You need exposure. And while this blog is not exactly breaking records for traffic, it's nothing to sneeze at.

That's why I have two guest posts a week.

Monday will be reserved for Billy Coffey until such time as he simply gets too busy to post here. Thank you, Billy. What a privilege it is to feature your work here every week, and what a pleasure it is to know you, my friend. I won't even say something silly like, "Don't forget me when you're a famous author", because I know you better than that. You're a real class act and I'm thrilled that the rest of the world is about to be blessed by your words just as your regular readers have been over this past year.

Each Wednesday I will feature another new guest blogger. I have been really overwhelmed at the response to this. I thought I would be scrambling to find someone willing to write for this blog, but people have been so gracious, and the result has been some excellent posts and hopefully some new readers for my guest bloggers.

I know I joke around about shamelessly self promoting myself on twitter, but I'd much rather promote someone more worthy of attention than myself. It's the least I can do. Because it's not about me anyway...

Be sure to be sure to catch Part One of Billy's interview with Lynn Rush about the call that every writer dreams about.


Shark Bait said...

Awwwww. Those are some cute pictures you've got there.

I was reading in Telling Lies for fun and profit the other day some good advice that said "Do one thing until it's finished, then start another." That's all fine and well, but who decided when it's finished?

One of the most important things I ever learned was how to do a half-ass job to make sure everything gets done at least. It takes practice, but I'm getting there. :-)

Candace Jean July 16 said...

I have a quilt on my sewing machine that has been there for 10 years. It's almost completely pieced & ready to be sent to the quilter. It would take about 2-3 hrs to get it there. But it's not perfect yet.

I feel your pain.

Sarah Salter said...

I call it "tunnel vision" or "target fixation." The way that I just get so consumed with making one thing perfect that I can't pull myself away from it to do anything else... If I start a jig-saw puzzle, I have to sit down and work on it until it's finished. If I write a story, I'll sit and "tweak" and edit it for hours and hours. If I hem a pair of slacks, every stitch has to be straight and even. It's a sickness... And sometimes, I won't even start something because I know it's gonna suck me in... Maybe I need to take "half-ass job" lessons from Shark Bait. :-)

Billy Coffey said...

I wear my slacker badge with honor. Perfectionists tend to freak me out a little. I stay away from them because I know darn well I'll never measure up.

And katdish, also: Aww, thanks.

Annie K said...

I tried scrapbooking. I'm just not that crafty. Or patient.

Oh, and Jon read your ADD post Saturday. He is #'s 1-10. Totally cracked up.

Lanette said...

I also used to scrapbook, then I got a full time job and well for the last two year I haven't scrapbooked a thing. Gotta figue out something to do with all those pics and all those supplies though!

Nick the Geek said...

I used to scrapbook and then I remembered I'm a straight guy. By use to scrapbook I mean I watched my wife doing it once.

Also, this sounds suspiciously like the post you said you were writing for Tom. Did you change your mind about writing for this mysterious Tom? Did you two have a fight? Is that why you won't tell us about Tom? Is Tom the dark lord?

jasonS said...

Wow, we definitely have that in common. When I'm working on a flyer, graphic, website, whatever I get so focused and consumed. I work and work, making endless tweaks until I about drive myself crazy. I finally just have to stop when I feel I'm at that point... So much fun!

You're doing good things here with the blog. I remember the 1st time I popped over here. I read a few posts and wrote you off (sorry!), but now I come back every day because I appreciate your heart, insight, and the community. Keep up the good work (and don't forget to get me a record deal). :)

Joanne Sher said...

I also used to scrapbook--and I've made a couple pages like that, but not regularly.

And I call it "focus and concentration." My husband comments on it all the time.

And I READ your blog almost daily - just don't always comment. ;)

Kelly said...

Two Words-Digital Scrapbooking-Takes almost no time or money. Visit my blog and see some examples of what I do. With four kids there is no way I could to traditional scrapbooking.

Helen said...

That is precisely why I don't scrapbook. I would spend all night on a page, and it wouldn't be perfect. Maybe I should just learn to accept that I'm not perfect, and just give it my best....


Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

Focus? What's that? I'm not obsessive about anything.

And while I'm on the subject,


Peter P said...

Katdish, you're so stinking creative and talented!

If it wasn't for the ADD I'd want to be you, not Billy!

katdish said...

SB - That's my problem. I CAN'T do anything half-ass. I was raised being told not to.

Candy - Ugh! I've got so many unfinished projects in my studio -- they stare at me in quiet judgement.

Sarah - I know EXACTLY what you mean. Target fixation - I like that.

Billy - you're hardly a slacker, and you're welcome.

Annie - Aw, Jon read my blog? I'm touched!

Lanette - I got boxes of that stuff.

NtG - Would you just PLEASE SHUT UP? You are so enjoying this, aren't you?

Jason - your music is really good - serioulsy. I'll have my people call your people. Oh, wait...I don't have any people.

JoAnne - Oh, thanks. I read blogs and don't comment all the time. Sometimes even I don't have something to say.

Kelly - I've seen some amazing stuff with that digital scrapbooking. One more reason to be on the computer. Sigh...

Helen - you're pretty close to perfect in my book.

Steph - See my reply to
NtG. Now go do some laundry or something...

Peter P - ADD's not so bad...It works for me.

Wendy said...

One of my good friends owns a scrapbooking store and she's always trying to lure me in. She's evil that way. I know what would happen. I'd buy all kinds of crap and then never do anything with it. How do I know this? Because of the many collections of crap I've got all over my house that I have yet to use but can't bear to part with.

But enough about me. How about you? I'm still thinking that it't 10 second Tom for you. Am I right? Huh? Huh?