A new skill-set at 78

A new skill-set at 78

By Cynthia Hammer

Some things are meant to be. COVID came along. I received a memoir from a friend in Australia and thought, Heck, during COVID isolation, why don’t I write my memoir? So I did.

I had never written a book, so I took free online writing courses. Learning how to write dialogue, the importance of simple, concise, and straightforward language was fun and challenging, and the value of description. My writing kept improving, and that was satisfying.

I shared my writing with friends, who said it was good and informative. They encouraged me, but I also learned that friends typically say that, so I hired a professional—a developmental editor. He cost as much as a college course, but working with him was like taking one.

I had written 55,000 words. His first action was to discard 15,000 of them, restructure my memoir to read like a hero’s journey, and have me write 15,000 new ones to fill in the journey’s gap. Then, it was on to submit book proposals.

Could I find a publisher for my book, even though I was a first-time author in a challenging market? I read that only 2 to 3 percent of authors find a publisher, which was intimidating information. But COVID made submitting proposals easier. Instead of mailing out proposal copies to numerous agents and publishing companies, they now accept proposals submitted as e-mail attachments. I spent days researching where to send my proposal. I set up a form to track who I e-mailed and the status of my submission. I sent out over 50 e-mails and got at most five replies, all negative.

Just when I was about to give up and consider self-publishing my book, I got a call. A publishing company was interested! Oh, wondrous joy! They liked my writing! They were willing to take a chance on a first-time, 78-year-old author. My book, “Living with Inattentive ADHD,” was released on Aug. 29, 2023 in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia. You can ask for it at your favorite bookstore.

Writing a book and getting it published was my first acquired skill set. But there is more. While writing my memoir, I learned that my late-in-life diagnosis of the inattentive type of ADHD continued to be a problem for others, so I thought, Why don’t I start a non-profit with a mission that children with inattentive ADHD are diagnosed by age 8 and adults with inattentive ADHD are readily and correctly diagnosed when they seek help? The non-profit is called the Inattentive ADHD Coalition, and its website is www.iadhd.org.  

Once I set up the website, I completed the paperwork to establish a non-profit and created the board of directors. Then, I focused on educating about inattentive ADHD by writing blogs, publishing online articles, creating a presence on social media, and creating and posting videos on YouTube, and on and on.

My work continues. My days are exciting, challenging, full, and fun.

What could be better when you get ready to celebrate your 80th birthday?

Cynthia Hammer is author of “Living With Inattentive ADHD” and executive director of the Inattentive ADHD Coalition, a non-profit organization based in Tacoma. Hammer, who has lived in Tacoma for 45 years, was diagnosed with ADHD in 1992 when she was 49 and later became an advocate of raising awareness of the disorder among adults and children.