Tag Archives: books

I Blame The Cucumber

Every now and then my brain gets stuck in a thought-groove.  For example, the other day I reached into our fridge and grabbed a cucumber…

Before I go any farther, I just want to point out that this post is entirely the cucumber’s fault.

Cucumbers bring out the worst in me; especially Long English cucumbers.  I can’t even buy them in the grocery store without smirking.  There’s something about publicly sorting through a big pile of phallic objects that just tickles my funnybone.  Should I get the ridiculously-long-but-skinny one or the one with average length but jaw-dropping girth?  Will the checkout cashier judge me by my choice?

If I think about it too much, I can’t repress my smile; which only escalates the situation.  ’Cause the only thing worse than publicly sorting through a big pile of phallic objects is doing it while wearing a guilty grin.  When I catch myself furtively glancing around to see if anyone’s watching, I know it’s time to just grab the first available cucumber and get the hell out of the produce department.

(I’d also like to note that I’ve never seen a man buy a Long English cucumber.  Not once.  Talk about intimidation.)

But I digress, as usual.

So, anyway… I reached into our refrigerator and grabbed a cucumber, and it squished.  Eeuw!

Quoth I to Hubby, as I disposed of the slimy remains:  “Liquidity:  A good thing for investments; not so good for cucumbers.”

Then my brain wouldn’t let it go.  It turns out there are a lot of words that rhyme with ‘liquidity’, and most of them have good and bad connotations.  Such as…

Frigidity:  Good for popsicles; bad for bedmates.

Rapidity:  Great for cheques arriving in the mail; not great for bills arriving in the mail.

Solidity:  Good for chocolate bunnies; bad for ghosts.

Aridity:  Nice for armpits; not-so-nice for climates.

Rigidity:  Bad in attitudes, but great in a… *ahem* …tool. (Would you believe I was talking about the Ridgid brand name?  No?  Okay, fine; you got me. *snickers*)

Flaccidity and tumidity:  Not even going there.

Stupidity: Just never good.

I had more, but I decided not to belabor the point.  (You’re welcome.)

But speaking of belaboring the point:  Many thanks to everyone who weighed in on my proposed cover design last week!  The majority indicated that the original covers were better, although some people said it might be interesting to see a design that used some elements of both.  So here’s my next attempt:

And then (because I can’t leave well enough alone), I also did a version with the photo clipped into a “Top Secret” file folder.

Here it is in blue/green just for variety (because if I go with the bright design, each book’s cover will be a different colour under the yellow titles):

Or… here’s the original cover with an updated font and series number:

Or am I over-thinking the whole thing?  Here’s the original cover:

Please click on the one-question survey below for a quick vote:

And as always, if you have comments I’d love to hear them.  Thanks for helping to preserve my tiny fraction of remaining sanity!

P.S. None of this craziness is my fault — the cucumber made me do it!  😉

 

34 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

The Smarter I Think I Am…

One of the blessings/curses of being a fiction writer is that I spend a lot of time surfing the internet for my research.  (Other people waste time on the internet, but I’m doing research.  Honest.)

I’ve gone down all sorts of rabbit holes, but it really messed with my mind the day I discovered illusory superiority and the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  Dunning and Kruger’s tests showed that the less competent a person is in any given field, the more likely they are to think they’re an expert.

Yep, the dumber we are, the smarter we think we are.  (Which explains why 90% of drivers think they’re better than average.  You math majors, stop giggling.)

When I first read about that study, I had an ‘Aha!’ moment:  At last I understand why there are so many idiots out there who think they know everything.  It’s immensely annoying to those of us who do.

Oops…

Seriously, though, I know I’m not good at everything.  In fact, I know I suck resoundingly at a lot of things. But in the things I think I do well…

What if I’m just too stupid to know the difference?

Thanks for nothing, Dunning and Kruger. You’ve made me second-guess everything I once thought I knew.  And seeking constructive criticism won’t help:  Apparently there’s another cognitive bias that lets people believe only the parts of criticism that they want to hear, while disregarding the uncomfortable bits (i.e. the information that could actually help them improve).

So now that my brain has been twisted into a particularly unattractive macrame project, I’m really glad I live out in the country so I can wander around mumbling to myself without anybody calling the nut-catchers. (Fortunately Hubby is used to me mumbling to myself, so I’ve got a free pass there.)

Anyhow…

I have no illusions of superiority in the field of graphic design.  So I’m hoping that all you brilliant readers will help me: I’m thinking of updating the covers for the Never Say Spy series.

I still like the current covers, but the latest trends lean toward lots of colour and bold fonts. Also, the current covers don’t hint that there’s a sense of humour in the stories, and I’m wondering whether a different design might draw in readers who aren’t necessarily looking for a hardcore shoot-’em-up thriller.

Here are the original and proposed covers side by side — what do you think?

Please click on the poll below to vote.  The first five questions are for everyone, and the last question is only for people who have actually read the series.  And if you have any other comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear them — please drop them in the comments section of this post.

Thank you so much for your help!  🙂

 

 

45 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

A Day In The Life

People often ask me what it’s like to make a living as a writer.  I tell them I’m living the dream; but I also add that my dream could be their nightmare.  Here’s a peek into my writing life:

The snow is finally almost gone!

(And some outdoor photos, since one of the best parts of my writing life is being able to pop outside for a few minutes whenever I want!  Click on the photos to see larger versions.)

Writing is my favourite thing, but I only get to do it about 16 to 20 hours per week.  The rest of the time I’m bookkeeping, maintaining my web page, marketing, keeping in touch with my readers through my blog and social media, and doing research on  publishing trends, legal and copyright precedents, book design, marketing, and new technologies.

The native ferns are already vibrant.

Weekdays, I usually work from 8 AM until noon, take half an hour for lunch, and work until about 4 PM.  Then I have a snack and hit the gym for a couple of hours (or skip the workout and stay at my desk, but I try to exercise at least 4 or 5 times a week).

I take an hour off for dinner and then I’m back in front of the computer from 7 to 9:30 PM.  I try to knock off at 9:30, but sometimes I work until 10 or 11 PM if I’m really in the flow.

I work 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year; but I sometimes only work half-days on Saturdays and Sundays.  (I know; I’m such a rebel!)  Even when I’m on ‘vacation’, I work an hour or two per day.

The heather and crocuses are in full bloom!

That may sound gruelling, but it’s flexible — I usually take Friday afternoons off to do some watercolour painting and grocery shopping, and I can make time for friends and family whenever I want.  I don’t watch TV, but if I’m not in the final 25% of writing or buried under a book release, I often read a novel in the evening.  (It’s market research — I love this career!)  I read fast, so I usually finish the book in three or four hours, and then it’s off to bed and on to the next day.

Such is my glamorous life.

The birth of a book is (maybe) a little more interesting: (I won’t include any graphic birth photos, I promise. 😉 )

The first minnow daffodil is blooming!

I decide which events will kick off the book and how I want the characters to develop, but I don’t do a lot of plotting in advance.  Instead I throw my characters into the action and see what they do for the first half of the book.

Every day I re-read and edit my earlier 4 or 5 chapters (by the end I’ll have read the whole manuscript at least 25 times) and then write my new content for the day.  By halfway through the book my characters have gotten themselves into a batch of impossible situations, and then I stop and spend a LOT of time deciding how they’ll get out.

The bees are hard at work already.

That’s when I write a plot outline, which is mostly a waste of time.  I make a “final” decision and write in that direction; and a few chapters later one of my hardheaded characters blows my plot out of the water.  I’ve never actually ended up following my outlines, but at least it gets my brain working.

By the 75% mark, all the plot threads start to come together.  Then I write obsessively while the rest of my schedule falls in tatters.

Tiny anemones, only a few inches tall.

After finally writing “The End” I re-read and edit the entire manuscript a few times to tune up pacing, stakes, and clarity before passing it on to my beta readers/editors.  (Nobody gets to see a single word of the manuscript before I’m completely finished — not even Hubby.)  In between final edits, I choose a title (I never know the title until I’ve written the whole book), do the cover design and photography, and write the cover blurb.

At last I announce a release date — hooray!  Then I assign ISBNs, register copyright, send the new book to Library and Archives Canada, convert the MS Word manuscript into epub, Kindle, and paperback formats,  and upload it to retailers.  When that’s done, I fix typos and update links in my previous books, and upload their new versions, too.

Crocuses, winter aconite, and heather.

After that I switch to my ‘marketing’ persona to develop ads, promotional listings, and social media announcements.

When the release furor dies down, I tackle any major work like updating my website, and finally take a breather for a few days.  But within a week or two (or less) the next book scratches at my mental doors, and next thing I know I’m writing again.  The administration is a slog, but the joy of writing makes it all worthwhile!

So… anybody wanna be a writer…?

I love crocuses!

33 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Geekery, Life

When Neurons Misfire

So, the good news is that Book 14: “Friends In Spy Places” is finished and is now available for pre-order at all retailers, hooray! (Click here for retailer links.)

The bad news is that my brain has been sucked dry, wrung out, sent through a vigorous spin-cycle, and finally pinned onto a sagging clothesline in my cranium, where’s flapping uselessly in the breeze that’s whistling through my ears.

And it’s still in better shape than Hubby’s.

Unfortunately, that’s not a joke. He slipped and fell on some ice Sunday afternoon and is now the not-so-proud owner of a concussion, some bruises and sore muscles, and a nasty scalp laceration. Fortunately his CT scan was clear and he’ll be fine, but that little adventure wasn’t kind to his brain or mine.

Spending a tense 23 hours in the emergency room would have been enough excitement for  me, but I also volunteer as the webmaster for our local Rhododendron Society.  So on top of my usual post-book-release brain drain, ER stress, and sleep deprivation, I had a gruelling 4-hour meeting yesterday afternoon.  My poor little neurons aren’t even capable of firing anymore — at this point they’re only twitching feebly.

You’d think that might cause some creative (or at least unusual) thoughts, but the only thing that occurs to me is this:

There must have been a big sale on beans around here, because I’ve never before been subjected to so much of other people’s flatulence. The last four days have been a veritable fartnado.  My nose has been assailed at a lecture, at the hospital, in a grocery store lineup, you name it. It’s been so frequent that I’m seriously beginning to wonder if I’m actually the culprit and I’ve just been too distracted to notice that I’m doing the dastardly deed.

Also, I learned a new technical term this week.  I had attended a lecture on mosses which included a field trip at the park, and someone asked our expert about the finely-textured bright green stuff growing on the trees from about 18″ on down.  When he began, “We call that the ‘DPZ’”, we all leaned in to hear his explanation. “Yes,” he went on sagely. “That’s the Dog Pee Zone, and the green stuff is algae, not moss.”

So apparently toilet humour is the best I can do for this week. Maybe next week will be better…

*strums lips and rocks back and forth, humming quietly*

36 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

Crap-Shooting

The other day I got a letter from my life insurance company, and the first sentence was a friendly “We hope you’re enjoying the benefits of your policy.”

I thought, “Oh, that’s nice…”

Then I realized that in order to ‘enjoy the benefits’ of a life insurance policy, I’d have to die.  Exactly what were they trying to say there?

I’m ambivalent about insurance anyway.  I’ve always considered myself an optimist, but buying insurance means I’m basically betting that something bad is going to happen to me.  The insurance companies (the true optimists, apparently) are betting that everything’s going to be fine.  This completely messes up my worldview.

I won’t get started about how insurance companies stubbornly pretend everything is still fine even after you submit a claim.  That’s a different rant, but I will say this:  If you want the most comprehensive list of weasel-words ever compiled, take a look at the wording of an insurance policy.

But I suppose policy wordings aren’t actually that much different than playing poker:  The rules are set out before the cards are dealt, and you can ante up if you want. I’d just feel better about the whole thing if it wasn’t my own wellbeing in the pot.

If I’d saved up all the money I’d spent (and will spend in the future) on insurance, I wouldn’t need the insurance.  But I don’t dare cancel it, because I haven’t saved up all that money.  And with Murphy and his Law breathing down my neck, I just know that if I cancelled, I’d somehow manage to launch my vehicle into the middle of our living room the very next day, destroying the car and house and leaving myself disabled with huge medical bills.  And I’d probably run over somebody in the process, so I’d get sued into the bargain.

Hmm.  Maybe I’m not as much of an optimist as I thought.

Anyhow, insurance might be a crapshoot, but here’s a sure thing:  We have a cover and release date for Book 14!

The big day is Wednesday, March 27, and pre-orders should be available by this weekend.  (If you’ve signed up for my New Book Notification list, you’ll get an email with all the purchasing links.)

Here’s the big reveal:

Secret agent Aydan Kelly’s supposedly-dead mother Nora has resurfaced after thirty years, and the chain of command assigns Aydan to investigate her for treason.  With only two weeks before Nora leaves the country under diplomatic immunity, Aydan struggles to piece together her mother’s questionable past.

Two days into Aydan’s investigation Nora announces she’s leaving early, and Aydan’s director gives her an ultimatum:  Solve the case before Nora escapes, or face imprisonment for dereliction of duty.  Meanwhile, an unknown enemy is stalking Aydan’s friends and the threats are escalating. 

When time runs out and prison walls loom, claustrophobic Aydan must make an unthinkable choice: Sacrifice her friends, or lose her freedom forever.

38 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

It’s Done! (…Ish)

After a week of writing for 14 hours a day, I’ve finally finished the draft of Book 14, woohoo!  (I don’t intend to escalate to 15-hour days for Book 15, though.)

I’d love to say that Book 14 is “done”, but I still have a round of edits to do before I pass it over to my beta readers / editors / proofreaders, and I have yet to choose a title or create a cover or pick a release date.  Maybe in a month… ish…?

But still, the draft is out of my head, and that’s a good feeling!  (Some might argue that I have a permanent draft between my ears, but I prefer to ignore them.)

In fact, just about everything is out of my head at the moment — my brain is completely drained.  And we have houseguests this week, so instead of a post with actual words that make sense (or as much sense as I ever make), here are some photos of our garden.  Even though it’s only January, the plants seem to think spring is near.

So Book 14 is done-ish and it’s spring-ish outside.  Hooray for “almost-there”!

‘Zeta’ heather has been putting on a show since November, and the pansies and grape hyacinths will soon be blooming again.

 

This is ‘Eva Gold’ heather.

 

‘Tanya’ heather, plus one red anemone that’s FAR ahead of all the rest.

 

The flower garden is slowly starting to fill in. Maybe I should have bought bigger plants to start with…? 😉

 

The rhododendron buds are getting bigger by the day! This is ‘Kabarett’ – I’m looking forward to seeing its purple blooms for the first time this year.

 

The perennial alyssum has wee yellow buds starting, but it might be a while before it looks like the optimistic photo on the plant marker behind it.

 

Even the hydrangea thinks it’s spring – look at all the little green leaves-to-be!

26 Comments

Filed under Life, Writing

Some News Is Good News

The phrase ‘no news is good news’ has always seemed ambiguous to me.  I’m never quite sure whether it’s supposed to mean ‘if you don’t hear anything, everything’s going well’; or ‘there’s no good news at all’.

I have a guilty confession:  I hate reading the news.  Because… there’s no good news.  I’d rather avoid it and pretend everything’s going well in the world.  But out of some misguided sense of civic duty, I do skim the headlines regularly; and Hubby (who is a newshound by nature) has strict instructions to let me know if we’re going to get annihilated by a rogue meteor… again.

But by the time I finish reading the news, I feel like the Vogons after Marvin zaps them with the empathy gun:  “I feel so depressed…  Oh, what’s the point…?”

So this week I’m concentrating on good news:

Spring is truly here and the birdies are in fine form around our yard:  Swallows swooping and cheeping, eagles soaring high, colourful red-shafted flickers probing for bugs, mourning doves cooing, robins chirping, hummingbirds buzzing and squeaking, and red-headed woodpeckers hammering out their messages on the trees.  And more good news:

The sun is shining! (And that’s not snow in the background; it’s a tarp covering our manure pile.)

 

My apple twig is in full bloom (it’s too small to be called a “tree” yet)

 

The last of the tulips are putting on a show

 

Our deciduous azalea, R. luteum “Golden Comet” is only 18″ tall but it’s still beautiful and fragrant.

And…

Book 13 cover art is done!  The release date will be June 5, 2018, and pre-orders should be available sometime within the next week.

If you want to receive an email with links when the pre-orders are live, please click here to sign up for my New Book Notification list.  As soon as I have all the information I’ll update my Books and Where To Buy pages, too, so stay tuned!

Escorting Canada’s top weapons developers to an international summit should be just another stressful day in the life of secret agent Aydan Kelly.  But Aydan’s routine mission becomes a nightmare when she’s accused of an attack on the delegates and the theft of a classified weapon.

As evidence mounts against her, Aydan’s own investigation suggests she might have unconsciously committed the crime.  Burned by her own Department and hunted by MI6, CIA, and FBI, Aydan must decide:  When her own mind might betray her, who can she trust?

 

 

 

48 Comments

Filed under Writing

Okay, I Admit It…

Hi, my name is Diane and I’m a bookaholic.

My addiction has serious effects on my daily life.  I always need to have a book within reach, and I get anxious if my To-Be-Read pile dwindles to fewer than ten books.

Oh, I pretend to be “only a social reader”.  I pretend I could put down that book once I’ve started it.  Sometimes I even succeed; but then all I can think of is getting back to the book.  I lie awake in bed, staring at the ceiling and fighting the book’s siren call.  Sometimes I manage to fall asleep.  More often I slip out of bed and finish reading in the dark and secret hours of the night.

Whenever I finish a book, I feel a lessening of the need… but only until I glimpse the next book.  Then the urge is stronger than ever.

I fight it, to no avail.

“Only one per day,” I promise myself.  “That’s normal, right?  That’s only social reading… okay, two books.  Two per day, that’s still okay.  I can do a full day’s work, have an early supper, and if I start reading by six I can be in bed by eleven.  Midnight at the latest.”

But then I find a series.

Soon I’m reading three or four books a day, immersed in the guilty pleasure.  Meals go uncooked; laundry undone.  I forget important appointments and have to find excuses for why I didn’t show up at my accountant’s or dentist’s or doctor’s office.

I feel ashamed.  Other people can lay down their books.  Some people only read a few pages before bed and then stop.  Why can’t I do that?

Because I’m a bookaholic, that’s why.  An addict.

And no, I don’t want a 12-step program, thank you very much.  Just back away and let me read, and nobody will get hurt.

The other day I finished a book and went to look for Hubby in the workshop, but he was nowhere to be found.  I checked the garage, too.  Nada.

I’d seen him leave, so I wandered around outside for a while but I still couldn’t find him.  When I went back into the house, there he was.

“When did you sneak in?” I demanded.  “I was looking for you outside.”

He gave me an ‘are-you-nuts?’ look.  “I walked right by you twenty minutes ago.  I couldn’t have been more than six feet away.  You were reading.”

“Oh.”

He laughed.  “We need to rig up a cattle prod connected to a timer, to launch you out of that chair when it’s time to stop reading.”

“No,” I disagreed, with perhaps a hint of menace.  “That’d only piss me off.”

“Okay, how about an electric-shock cushion hooked up to one of those alarm clocks that comes on gradually?  It would start with a little tingle and then build up until you noticed it.”

“Um, no.  I’ve had that TENS electrical treatment for physiotherapy.  If you turn it up gradually you get used to it.  I’d just end up getting slowly electrocuted.”

“No problem; we’ll use a current-limiter.”  Hubby grinned.  “This could work.”

But I’m not convinced…

54 Comments

Filed under Cartoons, Humour, Life

Good Spies Finish First!

The votes are in, and the title for Book 12 will be “Kiss And Say Good Spy”!  I’m pumped because that was the title I’d originally chosen for it (before I second-guessed myself).  I would have been happy with any of the other titles, too, but it’s cool to see I was on the right wavelength from the start.

Many thanks to everyone who voted in the poll!  Even if you didn’t vote for “Kiss And Say Good Spy”, your vote was still important – it helps me understand people’s preferences better for future books.  And I’m looking forward to lots of future books – I love writing!

I’m lucky enough to enjoy all parts of it, including the hours and hours of editing (yes, I know I’m a freak).  I also amuse myself by setting mini-challenges for each book:  “Can I include (fill in oddball item) in this book somehow?”

In Book 10 I challenged myself to include “ballistic rutabagas”, which became the name of an alternative music band.  In Book 11 the challenge was alien porn (kindly suggested by @SomeRandomGuy); and I’m proud to say I found a way to work it into the story.  Tastefully, of course.  *snickers*

But Book 12’s challenge, inspired by @SueSlaght’s blog post Short-Beaked Echidna Australia’s Fast Tongue, was a little trickier:  Include a short-beaked echidna, also known as a spiny anteater.  (For those unaware of the short-beaked echidna’s claim to fame:  It has a long, amazingly fast tongue and a four-headed penis.)

I had originally thought I might use an echidna as a villain’s pet, à la Ernst Blofeld in the James Bond classic “You Only Live Twice”.  That idea was shot down when I researched echidnas and discovered that they don’t make good pets because picking them up causes them intense stress and can injure them.

But my research also revealed that there are exceptions to that rule.  F’rinstance, there’s at least one short-beaked echidna that enjoys being picked up… in fact, he enjoys it a little too much.  He had to be retired from his career at a zoo because he kept getting a giant erection every time he was handled.

You can imagine where my mind went with that:  a villain’s pet that pops an enormous boner at inopportune moments.  I so, so wanted to write that!

But I didn’t.

See, I have a modicum of… well, I hesitate to go as far as to say ‘good taste’, so let’s just stick with ‘restraint’.

I did, however, manage to work the echidna into the story.  Challenge = Met!

So if you’re burning to know how a short-beaked echidna fits into a spy thriller:  The release date for “Kiss And Say Good Spy” is August 1, and preorders will be going live by the end of this week for the e-book versions (paperbacks will be released later).  If you’ve signed up for my New Book Notification list, you’ll get an email with links to the preorders as soon as they’re available.  I’ll also announce them on the Books page and my Facebook author page.

And…

I’m a little late with this since Canada’s 150th birthday was July 1, but one of my readers (Ethel: thank you) sent me this link and I thought everyone else might get a kick out of it, too.  It’s a music video created a few years ago by our favourite Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, and his brother Dave.  Welcome to Canada, eh?  🙂

Now… off to ponder Book 13’s challenge…

23 Comments

Filed under Writing

Diagnosis: Writer

So many of my readers are also writers!

Nelson is serializing his book on his blog,

Jono just posted a sneaky two-part story,

Carrie Rubin has two medical thrillers published and is working on a third,

Nancy Roman blogs, writes for Huffington Post, and has written a novel,

Andrew will soon be releasing a collection of poems,

…And I know @SomeRandomGuy is over 600,000 words into the draft of his epic sci-fi fantasy, and others have mentioned works in progress or in planning.

So I thought now might be a good time for a diagnosis.  Are you or someone you know struggling with writer-itis?  Use this handy checklist to find out:

 

Symptoms:  Uttering random words at inappropriate times; unexplained giggling, crying, and/or scowling.

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, Tourette Syndrome, or psychosis.

Tests:  Observe the subject’s behaviour after the outburst.

Diagnosis: 

If the subject scurries off to write immediately after the outburst, they’re a writer.

If the subject acts as though nothing untoward has happened, they might have Tourette’s… or they’re a writer in the throes of plotting.

If the subject carries on an animated conversation with invisible companions, it might be psychosis… or they’re a writer planning dialogue.

 

Symptoms:  Unhealthy attachment to word processing programs

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer or computer geek

Tests:  Observe the content of the document.

Diagnosis: 

If you’re still reading and completely riveted after ten pages, they’re a writer.

If your eyes glaze over after the first line and your brain explodes after the first page, they might be a computer geek… or a writer.

 

Symptoms:  Separation anxiety when leaving a computer; obsession with backups; paralyzing fear of data loss

Diagnosis:  Writer, computer geek, or conspiracy theorist

Tests:  Confiscate the subject’s data and destroy it before the subject’s eyes.

Diagnosis:

If the subject bursts into uncontrollable weeping and/or guzzles alcohol until they throw up and/or pass out, they’re a writer.  Or they were; before you destroyed the only copy of their life’s work and with it, their will to live.

If the subject curses you in Klingon and produces three redundant backups, they’re a computer geek… or a sci-fi writer.

If the subject sidles away with a furtive expression and disappears only to resurface several weeks later with a new name, identical data, and a blog decrying the censorship of the establishment and the oppression of free thinkers, they’re a conspiracy theorist… or a writer.

 

Symptoms:  Forgetfulness; changes in behaviour; social withdrawal

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, dementia, or drug addiction

Tests:  Restrict the subject to a controlled environment for 24 hours, then provide a laptop loaded with a word-processing program.  Retest at two-month intervals.

Diagnosis:  If the subject breaks into a cold sweat and suffers tremors, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, and/or seizures, it might be a drug addiction… or they’re a writer.

If the symptoms resolve instantly when a laptop is provided, they’re a writer.

There’s really no way to differentiate writers from dementia patients in a single test.  Writers will forget to eat, sleep, and bathe; will walk away from stoves leaving the elements on high; will drop the keys in the sugar bowl; will wander away from home and get lost even in familiar neighbourhoods; and may even fail to recognize close friends and family.  Retesting is the only way to know for sure:  At some point, writers will likely resume more or less normal behaviour (at least until they start their next manuscript).

 

Symptoms:  Immobility and non-responsiveness when addressed

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, deafness, or death

Tests:  Obtain a lightweight object at least six inches longer than the subject’s reach.  Gently prod the subject.

Differential Diagnosis:

If the subject startles, yells, and/or flails, they’re either a writer in deep concentration or deaf.

If the subject now responds when addressed (and particularly if they respond with creative expletives), they’re a writer.

If the subject still doesn’t respond when addressed, they might be deaf.  Or a deaf writer.  Or a writer in extra-deep concentration.

If the subject falls over and lies motionless, call the coroner… but the subject might still be a writer in extra-extra deep concentration.  Make sure the medical examiner checks for a pulse before starting the autopsy.

 

If you were reading this hoping you’d find a cure, well… sorry about that.  There isn’t one; there are only short remissions between manuscripts.  But the disease itself is so much fun, who’d want a cure anyway?

Do you have writer-itis?

* * *

P.S. I’m poking fun at myself and my fellow writers, but I don’t mean to trivialize the social and emotional consequences of dementia, Tourette Syndrome, mental illness, hearing impairment, or addiction.  To gain awareness and understanding of these conditions:

Tourette Syndrome

Alzheimer’s and dementia

Mental health

Hearing impairment

Addiction

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