Tag Archives: book

Mid-November Update

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There are two great pieces of news to share. First, thanks to the kindness of two of my former students and the congregation of their church, my place now has ample insulation to get me through the winter. Second, I have adequate heat in the form of a wood stove. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude for those who helped me get both installed, either. As I type these words, a nice fire roars away in the stove, and the insulation keeps the heat in here with me. It’s a nice feeling compared to the alternative, which I had gotten to know all too well.

Physically, my days range from kind of bad to really bad. One day, the spasms will be constant and unrelenting; the next, the burning in my shoulders will have me nearly in tears (once upon a time, I thought I was kind of tough). Some days I walk okay, but others, I can barely lift my feet. The fatigue continues to worsen, too. Any amount of exertion leaves me absolutely exhausted, and I can’t explain just how much that frustrates me. There are so many things to do, and I can’t do any of them.

I know I’ve expressed that I don’t have a confirmed diagnosis, but the neurologist and I are both fairly certain it’s MS. The symptoms all fit, and it makes sense with the predisposition to autoimmune issues from the Celiac (not sure if “from” is the right preposition there, so scientist friends please don’t bombard me about it). I haven’t mentioned MS on here before, I don’t think, because of the lack of a confirmed diagnosis, but that is the most likely culprit. The good news is it is manageable if I can get health coverage.

Speaking of which, my medical review for social security is next month. With any luck, I can get approved and get some kind of treatment and hopefully be able to get back to work. Mentally, some of the concentration and memory issues seemed to have eased off, so if I could get the physical issues under control, I could at the very least hopefully get back to writing regularly. More than anything else, I want to get better and get back to doing the things I love, the most important of which is being an active father for my sons.

I’m grateful for everyone who has contributed to the fundraising campaign. That money got me through September, October, and November, and without you, I really don’t know what kind of shape I’d be in right now. Hopefully, the medical review will prove beneficial, and I can get income from disability until I can get well enough to fend for myself. Until then, my situation remains pretty desperate. I still hate begging for handouts, and it eats away at me to have to ask, but if you could please share the link around and help me get through the next couple of months, I would greatly appreciate it. Once I’m well and back on my feet, I vow to pay it forward to others in need.

http://www.gofundme.com/brotherhood

A Much Needed Rant

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For the last three plus years, I’ve lived every waking second in some degree of pain. Up until June of this year, I endured this pain and soldiered on because I held out some hope that maybe one day things would get better. Now, the pain gets so bad that sometimes I wonder if I can take it for much longer. Most nights, I awake from a dead sleep calling out in pain. My left hand is nearly useless from trembling, numbness, and constant twitching. I can barely walk because I literally cannot tell how high my feet are off the ground and because the muscle spasms make my legs hurt so badly that the very act of walking is painful. Now, any amount of physical exertion exhausts me within minutes.

I feel used up and discarded, and for the first time in my life, I regret moving back to East Tennessee to teach. This state does not value education or educators. It does not value literacy. I regret allowing some misguided ideology that I needed to come back here and teach because if not me then who would do it. I was a fool for not moving to New York or LA and writing for TV or the movies. I should have been selfish and gotten as far away from this backwards, pill-popping, illiterate state as I could. For the first time in my life, I’m truly ashamed to be from Tennessee. I’m ashamed of this place and the ignorance and corruption which govern it.

I’m angry and bitter, and I feel completely and utterly hopeless.

Talking Smack

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I made this vow over the weekend, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who really knows me: Regardless of my diagnosis on Wednesday, I will fight this neurological disease with everything in me. It has no idea the mistake it made coming at me, son. And once I’m back to feeling like myself, I’m hitting the world like an emeffing tornado. Stand back and watch because the show will be entertaining!

Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail

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As a general rule, I don’t like to write advice pieces because who am I and what have I done to warrant offering advice to others, but here’s something I want to share because it’s important:

If you are going to attempt to pass yourself off as a professional in a given field, you need to learn the ropes of your field before you feign a stance as an expert. We all go through growing pains as we find our footing in our careers, and we all make mistakes from time to time. However, if you are going to request to share your knowledge of a specific subject at a professional gathering, proceed to demonstrate zero knowledge of that specific subject, and then get called out publicly for not knowing what you are talking about, instead of acting pompous and superior, go back and do a little research into your profession. Furthermore, once you have revealed how little you know, just stop talking. Don’t proceed to paint yourself as an arrogant buffoon by attempting to explain your ignorance away. It’s better to save face by showing a modicum of humility than to keep saying ignorant things.

We live in a highly competitive country. Moreover, in this age, creative endeavors are some of the most difficult fields in which to establish one’s self. Fans who attend conventions tend to take things seriously and have high expectations for creative folks. Mediocrity will not last for long on the steep climb, and ignorant pomposity will be met harshly by fandom. It’s not a sin not to know something on the periphery of your specialty, but it is a sin to volunteer to share your knowledge specifically about that periphery and then show up empty-handed. In the information age, it is unpardonable to show up to a professional presentation and not even know the basic definitions of the topics you asked to discuss. If you are going to climb into the arena, you had best train for the fight ahead of time. If not, don’t be surprised by the ass-kicking you receive.

To all of my friends, readers, fellow writers, and former students, please know that I share these words of warning out of love because I want you to be successful in your endeavors. I’m not going to share details or name names, so please don’t ask, but the person who committed this particular blunder last weekend should be glad that it happened at a first year show with only a handful of audience members at the panel, and not at Dragon*Con with a packed room. The latter could be career suicide. The former will pass by mostly unnoticed, but it serves as a teachable moment. When you choose to represent yourself as a professional in any field and are in a public venue, please for the love of all that’s decent in this world, show up prepared.

Another Nameless Post (I’m sensing a pattern here)

The Brotherhood of Dwarves - Book One
The Brotherhood of Dwarves – Book One

It’s Dragon*Con weekend, the location of my greatest triumph and biggest humiliation of my writing career. In 2009, I was accepted to DC as a Guest — not a Pro or any other designation but a full-fledged Guest — as an independent author. It was quite an honor for an unknown hillbilly with no agent, publisher, or PR firm greasing the wheels on my behalf. On the other end of the spectrum, in 2013, I had to withdraw from the show because the crowd overwhelmed me too much. Despite that low point, DC will always have a special place in my heart because of what it signifies in terms of credibility in my career.

Right now, with my health deteriorating daily and the nightmare our healthcare system has become, I doubt I’ll ever top that accomplishment. Because I spent my life teaching instead of pillaging retirement funds, I cannot afford all the expenses to find out what is wrong with me, let alone receive treatment. I’m trying not to be bitter about that, but it gets harder every single day. I feel used up and discarded by a system too short-sighted for its own good. Any country that punishes its citizens for working and attempting to be productive deserves whatever misfortune it brings upon itself.

I’m still optimistic that I’ll be able to write book five and complete the Brotherhood series. The people who have stood by me and encouraged me over the years deserve to have the final installment, so I will do everything in my power to finish it. My fine motor skills are eroding, which makes typing difficult, but I ordered an oversized keyboard with 1″ buttons. It makes typing a little easier, even though I’m still having to retrain myself on the location of certain buttons because of the size. Concentration is also something of an issue, but I’ll have to find a way to overcome that. I will complete the rough draft or die trying. I mean that quite literally.

All things considered, I’m keeping as positive an attitude as I can. I refuse to feel sorry for myself over this illness. Even though I’m angry at our inane system, with or without treatment, the illness itself will not hinder me from striving for my goals. It may slow me, but it will not stop me. I may never make it back to Dragon*Con, may never be invited to ComicCon, and may never know that success in this life, but I will complete the Brotherhood series and produce a couple of novellas for the Outlaws.

I’ve learned from previous experience that people will reveal their true feelings for you when you endure real hardships. Those who truly love and care for you will offer support and encouragement in whatever form they can. Those who see you in terms of what benefit they can reap from association will stand back with indifference. They may occasionally utter a word or two of support, but that’s as far as they’re willing to go. Those who harbor malice towards you will kick you while you’re down. I’m blessed and grateful to have a handful of true friends who will have my back no matter what. They are the only ones who matter.

Another Nameless Entry (Because I forgot to give it a title again)

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I have no idea where this post is going, but I feel the need to share something, though it doesn’t quite have shape in my brain yet. Today has been a rough day physically, and I need to formulate some words to make it into something positive.

After my accident in 1989, I had to redefine my life. All of my plans up to that point were toppled in that singular moment, which forced me to look at the world from a different perspective, and even though it took a few years for me to appreciate fully the lessons of nearly dying, it helped me mature faster than I would have otherwise. It also made me feel like my life needed to have a purpose beyond just crass materialism, and that sense of purpose has guided me for a quarter of a century. Because I’m human and fallible, I’ve often come up short of this desire, but even at my lowest and worst moments, I’ve tried to make my life mean something more than my own selfish desires.

I discovered writing as an outlet not long after the accident, within the first year at least. When I started college in the fall of 1990, I did so with the intent of becoming a writer. However, I concede that at that time I had no concept of what “being a writer” meant other than putting words down into some semi-coherent form. All I knew was that I loved language, loved dabbling with words and forms and ideas, and I gave everything I had to the pursuit of learning my craft.

Also because of the accident, I’ve lived my life in a manner so that I will not have many regrets. There are few experiences that appealed to me which I haven’t at least attempted. I’ve rarely left anything on the table, either, and even though I’ve failed at quite a few endeavors, I never have to wonder what if. My one real regret, however, is going to graduate school. If I could change one thing and still have my children, I would never have gone back to grad school because in terms of creativity and writing all it did was stifle my spirit.

That said, I don’t regret teaching. While I lament what has happened to education and the profession, teaching fulfilled that desire for my life to have purpose in a way that only the books can top. Despite every setback and heartache and difficulty, when I place my head on the pillow at night, I know in my heart that I did something more important than having a popular blog or a bestselling book or a viral video; I gave other people an opportunity to improve their lives. I shared a foundation for effective communication with a couple thousand students, and I did that job well. I may never have the level of commercial writing success I would like, and my books may vanish from history forever, but those lives I impacted will continue onward. I can live with that.

Even though this as yet undiagnosed disease is kicking my butt today, I have not lost my will to fight it. Even though I haven’t been able to work on book five the way I need to, I vow that one way or another I will finish it, even if I have to completely reinvent my writing process to do so. Even though I’m just a small voice in the wilderness, I promise to continue to live a life that has purpose beyond my own selfish needs whether I make any dent in the insanity and inhumanity consuming the world or not.

That’s all for now.

The Ramblings of D.A. Adams

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I’ve got a new release out, The Ramblings of D.A. Adams. Some of you will recognize that as the former name of my blog. This release is a collection of some of my favorite entries over the years, along with a few articles I’ve put together, and is available exclusively in ebook format. Please, go grab a copy so I can afford to get some work done to my awful teeth…