Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Writerly Ailments and Hazards

Writerly Ailments and Hazards
(c) 2009 Angie Ledbetter

Writing obstructions can be blamed on several sources other than the overused writer’s block. An easy way to recognize these conditions is by checking to see if they fit the acronym WAAH. (Yep, that’s the cry for the waahmbulance). And just so you’ll know, parents who are delusional enough to think they can continue writing for pay, pleasure or as a profession are especially prone to these diseases.

Seasoned writing parents who’ve spent time in the keyboard arena are probably already familiar with the more common illnesses such as cooties, Sick Kidlet Syndrome (SKS) and Work Burnout (WB), but may not know these conditions are aggravated by sleep deprivation. So, whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, please check the following list of symptoms and illnesses:

G'out – Although almost as agonizing, this condition is not to be confused with its physical counterpart called gout in which patients suffer painful swelling and inflammation of the joints from overindulgence in organ meats. G’out especially plagues writing parents of young children and those unfortunate enough to have overly dependent spouses. Symptoms include thinking, saying, or screaming phrases like, “G'out my room/office!” “Please just g’out my space for five minutes while I finish this paragraph!” and “Just g'out my face!”

No known cure for g'out currently exists, but researchers continue to work diligently to formulate a remedy. G'out sufferers find hope in outliving their household so they might once again establish a life of their own. Frequent participation in retreats held outside their zip code, short getaways, and weekend hideouts help diminish the debilitating affects of g’out. When that’s not possible, locking themselves in the bathroom often brings temporary relief.

The Terrible Ts (TTT) - This malady invariably afflicts writers with children in toddler to teen stages. Sadly, experts have not totally defined, explained or identified in its entirety this mysterious ailment. Symptoms vary widely among sufferers, and few medications or homeopathic cures exist to counteract this condition. Funding is currently being sought to conduct double blind scientific studies across the country.

Warning signs for the onset of TTT are the uncanny interruptions brought about when the writing parent inadvertently or on purpose touches one of the following items: telephone, table, technology, tub, toilet, or any other T-word that falls under the heading of standard writing tools or necessary equipment. Doing so somehow alerts others in the vicinity that it is time to drop in unannounced, throw a temper tantrum or otherwise cause chaos. TTT is a known killer of writing effort and is to be avoided like the plague. [Side note: Sufferers of Triple T are also apt to use clichés.]

Like g’out, physically removing oneself by a distance of at least 50 miles from those who surround the writer is the only known preventative measure.

Stealth use of T items may decrease the severity of symptoms, i.e. using a nearby gas station restroom; sneakily writing story ideas on toilet paper or recording them on a tiny, hidden voice activated recorder in your vehicle, on scraps of paper instead of your notebook or, heaven forbid, on your computer; and tackling writing projects late at night with a flashlight under bed covers.

Spouse-itis – Although not directly related to child rearing, since most family arrangements include a spouse, the addition of this ailment is germane to the list. Characterized in several ways, this ailment is easier to diagnose than others.

If you can answer yes to the questions in this short quiz, then you too are a Spouse-itis sufferer.

Does your spouse or S.O.:

  1. Prefer you be cooking, mowing the lawn or sitting glued to his/her side watching "Law & Order" reruns instead of hunkered down over your computer writing the next best seller?
  2. Make remarks like, "When you're through doodling on the computer, can you come here for a second?"
  3. Ask, "What is it that you are doing at that desk at 1 AM anyway?"
  4. Refer to your writing as a hobby?

Chronic Over-Activity – According to the CDC, COA can be fatal if not treated quickly. Contraction of this disease occurs when a writer over-schedules family member or self-related activities which stretch the limits of budget, time and temper. Such activities include, but are not necessarily limited to, sports, hobbies, school clubs, social events, community or volunteer work, and/or any kidlet demands requiring a parent taxi.

Setting limits (i.e. two extracurriculars per member per school year) can alleviate some of the stress caused by COA, thus affording more writing time.

If you are spending inordinate amounts of time sitting in bleachers or carpool lines due to the number of offspring in your home, counteract low writing time by having pen, paper, laptop, reading material and other writerly essentials with you at all times. Doctor and dentist office visits also afford opportunities to read and research magazines for ideas, provided that you and your family members can act civilly outside of cages.

The Good News: Older writers have learned to cope with these setbacks and temporary bugs, and are actually better for their survival. They’ve gained powers of concentration, learned how to write quicker in small snatches of time, have become more resilient and resourceful in their word crafting efforts, and have developed more efficient writing immune systems. Some even report that deadline pressure, persnickety editors, and other normal writing negatives don’t bother them at all anymore. Surviving to reach the Empty Nest phase has its rewards.

Remember, there is strength in numbers, hope in ignoring minor symptoms, and inspiration in the knowledge that most of these ailments will eventually leave veterans to seek out fresh blood!

Join live and online writing/critique groups/communities for encouragement in your creative pursuits. The support of other writers such as those wonderful beings called bloggers will force you into productivity. Laughter truly is one of the best medicines, and humor goes a long way in diminishing the crippling symptoms of these writerly illnesses. These experts can’t be lying:

“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they're finished, I climb out.” ~ Erma Bombeck

“Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.” ~ Steve Martin

“If your kids are giving you a headache, follow the directions on the aspirin bottle, especially the part that says ‘keep away from children.’" ~ Susan Savannah

Photo by Diacritical


Janna Qualman said...

love Love LOVE it, Angie! So on-target and hilarious. Very well done, it deserves awards.

Suzanne said...

I am suffering terribly from spouse itits!

"I didn't know I married the back of a laptop."

That is what I got last night! Hells Kitchen was MUCH more important to watch than another 3,ooo words dying to come out of my brain. That damn HOBBY!

jinksy said...

A masterful grasp of the subject! Go to the top of the class.:)

Hilary said...

Very well done.. too funny, and probably too true. :) You have such a flair!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Janna - glad you could relate. Hope your recovery is swift. LOL

Suzanne - stop your gritchin'! (I have to watch John Wayne, war movies and animals mating.) :)

jinksy - you have no idea how long I've waited to see/hear those words...even if they did come from a Brit. *grin*

Hilary - Thyanks! Ditto you on your photog-ary.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Bloggy Buds: Be back shortly to answer commentary. Dealing with bad case of HNCLA -- Hair Needed Coloring Long Ago.

B.J. Anderson said...

LOL!!! I love it!! You crack me up so much.

Jody Hedlund said...

LOVE it!! Is this article one you published somewhere else? If not, you really should submit it! It's awesome!

Kasie West said...

Bwa ha ha ha ha !!!!!!!!! I'm suffering from a major case of G'out and TTT. Thanks for letting me know my ailments. Acceptance is the first step to a cure. :)

ElanaJ said...

I totally have g'out. This is so so so funny!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Oh my, funny, funny, funny. And oh so true. I like to write in the kitchen with the dogs at my feet. Hubby likes to come in, turn on the news (full blast) and ask me stupid questions, like: "You writing?" Duh?

Jeanette Levellie said...

You always make me laugh, Angie! Thanks for the perfect ending to a stressful day at work.

I love to g'out to eat when I'm under pressure. Gyros, anyone?


lakeviewer said...

Just keep these posted with icons somewhere on the refrigerator. Then, you can point to them whenever.

Tim King said...

OMG! I'm laughing so hard. Thanks so much, Angie. I needed that. :-D

Fortunately, my kids are old enough this summer that I've actually been able to get work done. They play outside with their friends or whatever, and interrupt me rarely. (Or maybe they're just tired of my grabbing my head and screaming, "Oh!!! Not again!!! Aeiii!")


Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

What a hoot!! I don't claim to be a real writer...but I sure do have "spous-itis". He always wants me to come and watch some idiot fly his motorcycle over twenty dump trucks or something. Geez.

Shelli said...

love this - i definately have all of those.

Amie said...

I have a chronic case of spouse-itis! It would have gone undiagnosed if not for this post. Is there a pill I can take (or one I can force-feed my spouse)?

Shadows said...

Chronic Over Activity. I am super mom. I can work full time, be a mom to a toddler and write the next best seller. Great article!

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

Terrific! Spot on! :-)

Anonymous said...

You did not cover my particular blocking mechanism. I have CRS syndrom. Can't remember s*** syndrom. Any suggestions?

Angie Ledbetter said...

Glad y'all enjoyed! Hope if you saw yourselves in some of these dis-eases, you'll find a cure or relief and let the rest of us know.

I emailed all who have emails attached to their profiles. Will be around to visit your bloggies tomorrow! Night. :)

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Best post ever. Spouse-itis? We are so on the same wave length. Over activity with kids - only one left, but still hasn't slowed down. Except in July. That's why I love July. Let's just make it July all year long. Mom says. (That's what I envision empty next to be like.)

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Still giggling after reading your post!! Love it!! You definitely need to publish a book of your posts under (suggestion) 101 Ways Not To Be a Successful Writer!!! LOL! I'd buy the first copy for sure!!!

The scary part of your post is I think I've got several of the diseases!!! LOL!!!

Jenna said...

Great post!

I suffer from G'out and TTT.

Marguerite said...

Spectacular, descriptive post, Angie! A classic "if the shoe fits, wear it". So funny and so true. But I have to tell you, the Terrible T's don't end with the teens!

Karen said...

Hi Angie, I just hopped over from Jeanette L. blog, couldn't resist your blog name. I grew up in Shreveport, but most of my kin live in Baton Rouge.

Your blog is great, and man are you funny! I love the g'outta my face, and the funny quotes. I will visit often. Thank you for making me smile tonight.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Thanks Midlife! Hope your August is almost as good as July.

Donna, you're too sweet. (I've got a couple of those illnesses too. Hope they find cures or relief soon.

Jenna - my sympathies. :)

Marguerite - these dis-eases are gonna end at my house when teen years or over or big bad Momma's gonna yell, "G'OUT!" LOL

Hey Karen! Glad you came by, and glad you enjoyed reading. If you have a blog, I'll be by there shortly. :)

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