OCD is my Superpower by David Estes
As I prepare to publish the first 4 books in my new children’s series, Nikki Powergloves, which is about a nine-year-old girl with superpowers, I’ve been getting more and more people asking me what superpower I would choose if I could choose only one. My answer: I already have a superpower—it’s called OCD. And like it or not, I’m going to tell you all about it.
Ahem….tap, tap, tap…is this thing on? *high-pitched feedback from the microphone* Um, my name is David Estes, and I’m a writer with OCD. There I said it! Whew! I feel so much better now.
It seems more and more in this day and age that people say they have obsessive-compulsive disorder in one form or another and maybe they all do. Everyone’s got their little compulsions and pet peeves, like you might have an obsession with ensuring every piece of silverware is placed in its allotted slot in the drawer facing in the same direction (No, please, no! The blade of that knife cannot face east when all the others are facing west!); or perhaps for you it’s something less…shall we say…serious, like maybe you just like things clutter-free, everything in its proper place. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the shoes on the shoe rack and the clothes on the clothes hangers, is there? It’s weird, why should a single errant shoe make one feel like their life is spiraling swiftly out of control to a certain and final doom? I’m not making fun of all of you that are that way (well, maybe I am, just a little), because like you, I got an extra helping of OCD when they were handing out brains.
Now, there are a plethora of ways you can think about this little condition that has become so fashionable these days, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s just boil it down to being either good or bad to have OCD. The bad: Eek, where do I begin? It’s certainly not healthy to stress about every little detail in one’s life and it can drive you insane at the same time. My wife can attest to the frantic and slightly deranged look on my face when I have more than five unanswered e-mails in my inbox, or when the Tivo capacity percentage drops below 50%. It’s not pretty. It can cause strain in a relationship, too, where one partner is perfectly happy to let those pesky dirty dishes wallow in their uncleanness overnight, and the other partner can’t sleep until they are clean and dry and placed back in their proper positions in the cabinet. Sometimes OCD can also make it hard to concentrate on any one thing, because other little “problems” keep popping up that distract you. I recently watched a video about a lady who accomplished nothing in a day, because each time she went to do something, she noticed something else that was out of place and so she turned her attention to that other thing. Of course, then before she could finish that other thing, she discovered some other issue. Like putting away dishes and noticing the mail hadn’t been sorted. And then starting to sort the mail and noticing the plant hadn’t been watered, and so on and so on: You get the picture? In any case, OCD can really hurt your productivity.
Okay, so on to the good. People with OCD tend to have a high attention to detail. There will be a smudge on that window over my dead body! Sounds a little crazy, but when you look out that window at the beach, the view will be spectacular, unspoiled by any imperfections. OCD also tends to lead to a high level of organization, which usually helps productivity. If your life is organized, your mind is organized, and you can focus on completing all your “To Do’s” in the order they are meant to be completed in (Don’t get me started on To Do lists, they are my best friends and worst enemies. And spreadsheets? Oh have mercy!).
So where am I going with all of this? I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you don’t have OCD, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. And if you do, embrace it and use it to your advantage. I know I do. If it wasn’t for my OCD, I’d never have accomplished what I have in such a short time. My strict 3,000 words a day writing requirement may have driven my wife completely nuts—Me: just thirty-six more words, please! My wife: we’re going to be late for the movie!—but it’s allowed me to churn out ten books and more than 500,000 words in 18 months, all the while becoming a fulltime writer. My obsession with responding to every e-mail, Facebook message, Twitter mention, and Blog comment has allowed me to build up a small (but growing!) base of loyal fans who I love and adore. And my somewhat out-of-control need to respond on Goodreads to almost every comment and post in every reading group I’m in has given me the utmost honor of meeting some of the best people in the world and making the dearest friends who I’ve never actually met in person.
So you can have your spidey-vision, invincibility, and invisibility, and I’ll take my OCD as my superpower any day.
Disclaimer: this has been written slightly tongue-in-cheek, slightly while sleep deprived, and with slightly stick-a-needle-in-my-eye truth.
David Estes is the author of the YA paranormal trilogy, The Evolution Trilogy, the YA dystopian novel, The Moon Dwellers, and the soon-to-be-released children’s series, Nikki Powergloves (August 31 2012). He enjoys playing ping pong, dancing in the living room with his wife, and being the best darn couch American Idol critic. He and his wife are currently travelling the world while David writes and she writes and takes photographs.