This was the question that Anne Frasier asked many months ago but it's one of the blog posts that stays with me.

I did something off-handed when I couldn't sleep in the middle of the night last night. Took no more than 10 seconds of my time. Really, I did nothing.

The response I got was like a punch in the gut. All I'd done was forward a great review of someone's book to them, but I hadn't really grasped just how hard a time they were having right now. To be honest, the way some people have been lately, I almost expected to have my head severed. The last time I pointed out something (I thought) was of note to an author, they swore at me.

It got me thinking, and that led me back to Anne's post from last July. Are we just defective? Is borderline insanity or manic depression a requirement for having an artistic personality?

And is this why people get so testy when you don't follow all the rules and behave a certain way?

In part, I also got thinking about this because of Simon's blog post here, In at the deep end, surrounded by sharks, wearing raw-meat trousers. I think I understand Simon's dilemma. We authors work in isolation much of the time, and then when we're at functions with real, live authors some of us newbies are dying for a chance to really talk about our fears and worries...

I think we're really hoping someone will reassure us, tell us that it will be okay. And face it, nobody likes Mr. New Kid On The Block to walk in strutting their stuff, saying "look at me, aren't I wonderful?" Instead, we end up getting dirty looks and become even more insecure. "Mussed that up." "Made a lousy impression there." "That person will never speak to me again." "God, what a bumbling idiot I am." "May as well go for the capitol L tattooed on my forehead..."

I get that we have to present a certain image. I understand that confidence is important. But there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance and I'd rather be around someone still a bit insecure than with a head swelled the size of Texas.

I have no antidote for insecurity. There's someone other than Evil Kev who tries daily to cheer me up, and encourage me, and they've gotten me through some awful days. I don't know what I'd do without them.

Makes me wonder what others do when they get down.

But being politically incorrect, I can understand if nobody's going to share.

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Every time I post something about the hard times of being a newbie, nobody wants to hear it. :) Then I do regret being so honest. Some people give me the impression that because I'm going to be pubbed I shouldn't be allowed to feel anything but happy. So I try to be upbeat. I'm thrilled to be pubbed, but sometimes I feel alone with my doubts.

As for the broken part, I think writers have had to deal with some mental pain in order to write dark or with empathy, if that makes sense.
Actually Kelly, it makes a lot of sense that we have to deal with some mental pain to write dark or with empathy. I'm not saying we can't write 'fiction' but what I think makes the difference between some of the greats and others is really understanding emotional anguish.

Funny Kelly, I don't think of you as a newbie. But it's the thing about feeling alone with doubts that gets me. Why is it we can't support each other a bit more? Why does that seem to be so hard? I never mind when people vent my way.
oh, yeah. some unpublished writers tend to get pissed off when published writers complain, because they would do anything to be in their shoes. but for many being published is all about heartbreak and disappointment and terror. you have to be able to handle nasty crap coming at you from all sides. the cumulative stress of those months before and after a book release couldn't be more perfect for a total meltdown.

i think that's why some people quit when their writing careers are going well. they can't handle the stress.

really, you have to be crazy and strong as hell.
I nearly quit while writing my third book, got suicidal thoughts, and went into therapy and onto antidepressants. It was horrible and just became too much with the first book out - and doing incredibly well - the second one about to hit the shelves... Fwiw, we're not all crazy. I have several writer friends who are happy and delighted with the work. I'm not one of them, but I can't *not* write, even though I've certainly tried. Some days this is the best job in the world. Other days I'd rather have dental surgery. Without novacaine.
You've had me pondering 'I think therefore I am' all day. Maybe you write because you are bipolar... ;)
Writing's just a crazy emotional pursuit. You get high over writing that--when you look at it coldly--is pretty bad, and you get discouraged by writing that turns out to be pretty good. As someone said, you have to fall in love with the process of writing itself and not take your emotions about the result too seriously. Even so, you wonder whether spending so much time in isolation is psychologically healthy. But what the hey? You're a writer or you're not, and if you are, you write.
Interesint comment about spending time in isolation and whether or not that's healthy. I find it very strange shifting suddenly to mega-interaction at conventions. It's taxing.
This very shift from the isolation of writing to the out-thereness of promoting one's work was the hardest thing of all for me to do. In later years it became next to impossible. If I could have just had more one-on-one type interactions, or limited the appearances to drop-in booksignings, I think I could have handled it a lot better. But the big booksignings and book fair-type things and yes, conventions, became for me like being trapped in a crowd. I was, I guess you'd say, psychically overwhelmed. I don't know how to describe it, but it was so extremely hard to do.
I hesitate to say this but I am probably one of those "irritatingly cheerful cretins" Vincent knows. I'm pretty even tempered, hate arguments, try not to get mad, and try not to gossip or bitch about people. I get upset and miserable about things, as everyone does, but I can't think of a time when I've ever been depressed about writing. I love doing it. Even when it's not going well I love it. But then, it's not my full time job, it doesn't pay the bills and I am fully aware that everything I write is a big pile of steaming keech.

I don't often feel down, but when I do, I write something silly, or speak to my mum or a friend, or give someone a hug, or have a bloody good cry, watch a film noir, put The Ramones on full blast or order pizza. Or all the above.
In as much as art imitates life, art-producers such as us imitate life as well.

I've come across authors who seemed aghast by the very notion I would "dare" contact them to exchange websites with them. From their point of view I must've been out of my mind to think that I, a mere peon in the presence of true literary greatness, could be so bold as to even losely affiliate myself with such "giants".

Luckily I've meet just two or three of these full-of-themselves nitwits in the past three years.

Most authors I've chatted with out of the blue ("Hi! I just found your website and I'd love to link up with you. By the way, loved the plot of your latest book..." or on Murder Myster Advertise, or in many chatrooms) and ended up making some nice acquaintances.

Luckily the nice people vastly outnumber the not-so-nice people.

The difference is in the similarity; we must all maintain a positive mental attitude as we persevere. We must shrug off the negative influences and keep seeking out the good ones.

If we stopped writing and instead quit in failure then we have failed.

But when we keep on trying, the inverse opposite is equally true; we just haven't succeeded...YET!
I wondered, as I read this, if at least a few of those authors you thought "full of themselves" might have been as overwhelmed as I was sometimes. I think when I got that way I most likely appeared distant and unresponsive, which is not really me.
Broken? Maybe. Broke? Mos' def. (Sorry, I've been watching The Wire.)

I don't know what all this depression and neurotic talk is about. I am the poster boy for mental health.

You can tell by my avatar.


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