(Random thoughts from a Picture Book Writer)
Guest Post by Rob Broder
Can your friends read an entire book without falling asleep?
Do people end conversations with “So, what do you think of that?” and you realize you weren’t listening the entire time?
Do you ever watch a movie with your partner and they don’t hit pause to tell you something that happened to them five hours ago at the grocery store?
(Pause) So babe, I was in the checkout line at the supermarket and I couldn’t decide between green or white mints. So. wait for it… I got them both. (un-pause)
I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I have not been diagnosed professionally, but I am a classic case. Ask my wife.
definition of attention deficit disorder (ADD)
: a developmental disorder that is marked especially by persistent symptoms of inattention (such as distractability, forgetfulness, or disorganization) or by symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity (such as fidgeting, speaking out of turn, or restlessness) or by symptoms of all three and that is not caused by any serious underlying physical or mental disorder
My wife and I run a picture book publishing company called Ripple Grove Press. We recently bought a home and I’ve always dreamed of our desks facing each other like a detective agency office, with matching lamps and coffee mugs. But she doesn’t want to share an office with me, sometimes even grabbing her laptop to work in the basement. It can’t possibly be my joyful humming that cuts through the quiet ambience. Or sharing a mindful quote I read on social media. Or my constant interruptions: “Hey babe, wanna hike to that waterfall 20 miles south of here? Should I schedule a haircut, or let it grow a bit longer? So is Pluto still a dwarf planet or was it classified back to a full planet?”
I’m learning that not everyone is like me.
Some people actually pay attention. Some people can focus on a task for long periods of time or enjoy lengthy conversations. Some people can listen to an hour-long podcast without drifting off into 700 other thoughts.
Now that I’m blankety-blank old, I have a wonderful wife to help me be aware of my actions, like always humming, always interrupting a conversation to share something completely off-the-subject, or saying something totally irrelevant to anyone listening but me.
I now realize that my ADD has affected me my entire life, whether just squeaking by in school no matter how hard I studied, not getting along with co-workers because I’m never focused on the job at hand, or even with personal friendships, because I would rather go for a hike or be silly instead of concentrating on something they’re interested in.
However, with this lack of attention span comes my love for brainstorming, writing, and doodling. It was when I became a pre-K teacher that my passion for picture books and storytelling came into focus.
As a pre-K teacher I got to…
- be outside all day,
- play in the dirt,
- read books,
- and make up stories.
I constantly made up stories, which seemed to keep the attention span of a four-and-a-half-year-old longer. Thinking on this now, maybe it kept my own attention longer, too.
Now that I’ve started my own press, I read hundreds of picture books and thousands of submissions, I notice my own writing style starting to change and become more defined. I am more aware of how to bring my scattered ideas together to write a good story.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer and maybe picture books are what got me there. I can daydream, get distracted, and still finish my task. A picture book is quick to read, and what’s best, it’s accompanied by beautiful art. And when writing, even though you are writing things over and over and over… you’re only working on roughly three pages for a complete picture book manuscript—or for an article for Writers’ Rumpus. 🙂
So, getting back to the title of this article: How to live with someone who DOES NOT have ADD? Just appreciate them for who they are.
Rob Broder is the Publisher and Creative Director of Ripple Grove Press. His picture book Crow & Snow released on October 27, 2020 by Simon and Schuster. Our Shed: A Father-Daughter Building Story with Sasquatch – Little Bigfoot is releasing May 4, 2021.
And a picture book not yet titled with Patagonia Books, slated for Fall 2021.
Rob is on the Board of Directors for the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), and was a co-honoree for the 2019 PW Star Watch. He lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter and dog and cats. RobertBroder.com
Courtesy Rob Broder: Book covers and stack of Ripple Grove Books
Pixabay: Music staff, Colin Behrens; Bish-bash waterfall, suuszee; Haircut, Renee Olmsted Photography; Boys reading books outdoors, Victoria Borodinova; Child’s hand in sand, Markus Distelrath; Boy jumping in puddle, Lubov Lisitsa.
NASA: Pluto and Charon
Inspirobot: Randomly generated inspirational quote
Silver lining to the pandemic, at age 40 I finally figured out I have ADHD. I was just diagnosed last week and yes, everything makes so much more sense now. It’s my understanding ADD is an outdated term. There are three different types of ADHD, inattentive type is what used to be known as ADD and that is my diagnosis. There is also hyperactivity/impulsivity and the third is combined type. I sought a diagnosis because I needed help. I hope you are able to navigate your journey in a way that works for you. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.
Great read, Rob. I guess I’m used to it having 3 men in my life with it (no, not Dad).
Your wife leaving for the basement gave me a chuckle. I’m not sure about ADD…but when I’m trying to concentrate on my writing…but husband doesn’t seem to get it and I have to find a place where he won’t be able to just start chatting. 🙂
Carol and Rob, now I’m wondering if this is just a thing people do! I also have to shut my door to keep my husband from interrupting me. Though to be fair, he does the same thing to me, when he’s writing poetry.
ADD runs strong in my family. My husband, my son, my grandson (Luke, I am your father). It’s rubbing off! It’s delightful and always interesting to live with ADD. One never knows what will happen. As long as someone knows where and what is supposed to eventually happen, it’s all good. Great post! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
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I understand. When I was a high school drama teacher, ADD kids were my go-to for tech work. They thrived on doing something in a school that did not require typical academics. One student who ran the lights could not follow a script, but he knew how to paint with lights. On a literary note, IVER & ELLSWORTH is among my constant favorites.
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