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CADD™: A Personal Confession August 24, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in creativity, historical fiction, Issa, Issa Legend, music, mystic jazz, The Swords of Faith, writers, writing.
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The Diagnosis: Creative Attention Deficit Disorder 

The Prescription: Focus™ 

Yes, I have been struggling with CADD™ for most of my life, from the time I realized I am a creative person, maybe ten years after I was born. I am pleased to have identified this condition after all this time. There is little doubt this condition has shaped who I am, how my life is gone, and most importantly, what I offer to the public. All right, so what does that mean? Let’s take a look at it.

What is CADD™?
Creative Attention Deficit Disorder refers to bouncing from one creative interest to another, splitting attention between very different creative projects. In an age of genre-fication and specialization, those with this CADD™ condition can find carving out a life in the creative spheres to be difficult. We are supposed to seek out niches, and build audiences in those niches. For example, historical fiction as a specialty for a writer is no longer enough. Historical romance or historical mystery is even better, and historical romance or mystery set during a specific period, a whole series of books, is best of all. But we CADD™ people are niche jumpers—we’re easily bored with a narrow set of interests and are impulsively drawn to where our curiosity and inspiration take us.

What is the Treatment for the CADD™ Condition?
The medicine we are told to take is called Focus™ (generic substitute -“stay on one thing, stupid”). I’ve tried taking Focus™.  I just don’t tolerate it well. Because to “focus,” I need to choose. Even now, I wouldn’t know what choice to make even if I decided to take Focus™. Do I set aside my writing? My recent novel, The Swords of Faith, won three awards, and I have completed a follow-up novel (set six years later) with clear ideas for a third, and other follow-ups. Or do I set aside my music?  My CD “Issa Music” has over 300 fans around the world on internet radio, fans on every continent except Antarctica. This fan list is growing. 

So Will I Take the Medicine Now, At Long Last, Now that I Have a Diagnosis?
You can probably tell from the previous section—I’m not going to take this medicine. As I said, I have tried it before, and it hasn’t worked for me. I am now embracing my CADD™ condition. I will work with all the energy life grants me to go in every creative direction that feels right to me. My blog reflects this—my posts are all over the place here. I am not going to beat myself up over this anymore. I ask people only to consider what I have to offer without taking into consideration my CADD™ condition, that I am not a genre-fied specialist. If my writing works for you, enjoy it. If my music works for you, enjoy it. If you like it all, that’s fantastic. (And why not?) You may come to see connections. I am one person, so connections are bound to be there. Podcast interviewer Ron Hood, of Ron’s Amazing Stories, spotted a connection and we spoke about it during his interview with me. (Ron Hood was the best-prepared, most insightful interviewer I have ever had the pleasure to encounter—check out “Ron’s Amazing Stories” for his work with me and with others.) But it is still a broad connection, not an obvious one like those who have the skill to genre-fy/specialize.

The Consequences of Untreated CADD™
So for me, CADD™ is terminal. I will never cure it; I will never recover from it; I don’t want to. What has this meant? When you won’t grab that niche and stay there, it is harder to find success in the marketplace. We live in an increasingly cluttered and decentralized world of multiple communications channels. Specialization/genre-fication allows people focused on your interest to find you through those channels. But the generalist, the “Renaissance man” (or woman), has a lot harder time reaching an audience under these circumstances.

For me, this has meant I’ve been unable to make a living with my creativity. I have perceived this in the past as the profound failure of my life. (I am not whining here—everyone has failures. My life is abundant with wonderful successes and I am fine where I am now.) This has reduced my time for creativity. But I read something recently that brought me a lot of comfort, even a smile, as I think about this. (This was in the comment section of an article on the whether social media will remain an effective marketing tool.) There are many creative people in the world. Society does not have the resources to provide a livelihood for every creative person. (In primitive societies, story-telling and music-making were not specialties. They took place in a group setting with individuals contributing to the creative activities after their tasks to sustain the group were completed.) So, society arbitrarily supports some creative people over others. In our society, the marketplace generally decides who gets that support, though academia and government grants also play a limited role. And it is not necessarily the best who get the support! That is an important consideration in looking at all this. And looking back, this is true through history. Some creative people were paid—some had other occupations to sustain them. Some creative people whose work is now considered to have stood to test of time, achieving a consensus label of greatness, died destitute while others with lesser talents thrived. So as I have said before, I’m through beating myself up over this. I accept my CADD™ and its consequences.

Going Forward
As I said, I will indulge varied creative impulses with all the energy, talent and time I have available. My website displays what I have to offer. I invite people to enjoy whatever they find appealing. At this time, I still support myself with a “day job.” But that is even winding down—I can see ahead the day when I will “retire” from that. (I will never “retire” from creative projects—that’s impossible!) Now, if I hit the market right, I would love to make a living with music, or writing, or both! But, if that doesn’t happen, I’m still at peace with my CADD™ condition.

Do you have CADD™?
I do not believe I am alone, the only person “afflicted” with this CADD™ condition! If you see yourself in these words, in my story, I invite your comments. Share your own story. Share your thinking. We are being crowded out by the genre-fiers, by the specializers. Let’s speak out for ourselves, support each other, and continue to create. Over-specialization/over-genre-fication, narrows perspectives. The world needs CADD™  people because we are more likely to bring broad perspectives, big-picture, out-of-the-box thinking, to the world. We are important. CADD™ “sufferers” unite! We have nothing to lose but our apologies for our short creative attention spans!

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