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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"Makes me wonder what others do when they get down"

As opposed to what? :-)

You know, what you said about manic depression is interesting. Not because most (any?) writers are clinically bipolar, but it certainly describes what you can get from the act of writing pretty well: exaggerated and slightly surreal highs, versus crushing lows. For me, the highs come very infrequently and last a very short amount of time, while most of the time it's just pain. Not in a "woe is me" kind of way, because I know I'm lucky to do what I do, but it's not great that a major part of how you define yourself is subject to a bunch of words you happen to have written that day.

It's a precarious thing. My book's just come out, and someone said to me the other day "oh, you must be so proud", and I wanted to strangle them. It's like, "do you want to come to the spare room and look at the absolute fucking dross I wrote today?".

How to counter that, I reckon, is keep a sense of perspective. What I do is important to me, but every crime writer on the planet isn't worth a single doctor, and it's important not to take yourself too seriously. Then there's maths: 1,000 words a day = a book in three months or so. Also, I keep reminding myself that half the battle is showing up, and that everything - no matter how shit - can be edited repeatedly except for an empty page.

And drink. I know it's not good, but honestly, it does help. It makes you smile.
"I keep reminding myself that half the battle is showing up, and that everything - no matter how shit - can be edited repeatedly except for an empty page. "

That's a very good point Steve. As to "(any?)" I am. And I know some others who are clinically depressed.
I shouldn't have said 'any?' like that, because I never really doubted there would be - I was more curious as to whether there were any writers who had famously acknowledged it. (If you see what I mean). The people I've known with manic depression have always tended to be very creative and very intelligent, but in some cases it's crippled them to the point that writing a book might be a tricky prospect for them (especially, say, a book a year). Which I guess is just one of the reasons it's so cruel.

In light of that, I always want to play down anything I feel, because it seems minor in comparison, but there are certainly some days where everything is heavy and a lot of effort. Writing doesn't cause it or affect it, but it gets amplified by it - especially in winter, when I'm a properly moody bastard. :-)
Hmmm, I'm not sure if there are any who've gone out publicly. One of the potential symptoms is being extremely anal, actually. It depends on how severe it is, and depends on your personal coping mechanisms, but writing a book a year isn't something I struggle with. I can do more than that, doesn't seem to be an issue for me at all. My usual turnaround time on a first draft manuscript is 6-8 weeks (depending on Spinetingler workload). In part, I attribute that to being bipolar, because I chanel the angst.

And I don't think anyone should discount how they feel, ever. The minute people start talking about doubts and insecurities others start point fingers about it being self indulgent. The results for some people can be devastating. We condition people (especially guys) from an early age to suppress feelings instead of learning to cope with them, and then we wonder why some guy goes and shoots up a school.

Just gets me thinking we need to stop badgering people and encourage each other a bit more. I don't think any of us are incapable of feeling hurt and of course we all take our writing personally. We do get publicly ripped apart in a way that doesn't often happen in other jobs, and it's there for all the world to see. Stands to reason we might be a little sensitive sometimes - anyone who's been reviewed knows what I'm talking about.
Actually, yeah, I'm talking bollocks to a certain extent, in that one friend I can think of is currently doing something far more demanding than writing a book. I guess, as you know, it can be an up and down kind of thing, especially taking the effects of medication into account, and I shouldn't generalise.

As for stopping badgering people, I read a quote from Kurt Vonnegut today that seemed pretty accurate:

"Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae."
I can't relate since I am not a writer and totally lack any artistic talent, but I do get down. Sending a virtual hug to you even if you don't need it right now. I have total respect for political INcorrectness. I am not very correct either.

We are out of printer ink and reading on here just does not happen once I finish email and this so have only read the first bit so far but did not find a single mistake so no red ink. And so far I think it is smoother and more comfortable than the first book, and I liked the first book so this is all good. I think you are very talented Sandra.
Thanks LC. I'm really surprised to hear that, actually, but it's a good thing, especially considering it's unedited.
Is this an author thing or a person thing? I always try my best to be even-tempered and level-headed, but that's only because I grew up around testy and unpredictable. At work, I know people who work together, but won't talk to each other and a daily bitch about someone or other is de rigeur in the office. I played in a 5-a-side game at lunchtime where football occasionally interrupted the pushing and shoving and dangerous tackles.

If anything, people might give writers a little more leeway in their erratic behaviour, because they're creative and folks believe it's all a necessary part of the creative process. I don't. You get manic depressives, grumpy old sods and irritatingly cheerful cretins in every walk of life. And, sometimes, the next day, they've all swapped places.

Human beings are complicated. If everything in a human being's head went smoothly every day, it'd be like a city that never had a traffic jam, suffered no crime and whose streets were always free of litter. And maybe there is a city like that somewhere, but if there is, I'd be willing to bet there aren't any people there.
"You get manic depressives, grumpy old sods and irritatingly cheerful cretins in every walk of life. "

It's the 'irritatingly cheerful cretins' that really bug me. I mean, anyone seen the news today?
"Anyone seen the news today?" Which bit of it did you mean? I've been getting email updates from a friend who is reference librarian at a small college in VA just 30 miles from Blacksburg, where somebody shot 33 people and then him(I presume it was a him)self. I've been blogging about causes of violence and general incivility lately, but I can't get my head around that one. Yet.

Speaking to your main topic, Sandra, one of the hardest things for me to realize in life has been how hypersensitive I am compared to "most people." I actually became more emotionally stable once I was able to pour all that into writing. I calmed down and sometimes even managed to mellow out. I was never diagnosed manic but I've struggled with depression, and when medicated for the depression I missed the highs I used to have, so I think I may have been but it was undetected because the highs were so brief and mild compared to the lows.

I had a close friend, also a writer, who used to say all of us writers are insane. And then he'd laugh. But to a degree, I think it's true. We see and feel things more keenly and that's why we write. I think.
I remember posting the broken topic before going to bed. in the morning i thought, what have i done? nobody responded, and nobody responsed. i was about to delete it when suddenly a floodgate opened. i was humbled by what people were willing to share. that and the uterus coffin ended up being the most popular posts in my two years of blogging.


when i get down i tend to blog about it, then sometimes wish i hadn't because it seems i'm always bitching about something. i've discovered that the majority of people accept things the way they are and they don't want anybody ruining their vibe by pointing on what and why things suck. (sorry, a bit off topic.)
I don't think that's off topic, really. Some people have a delicate balance, I think, and the slightest whiff of uncertainty is like blood in the water for sharks - they fear their 'house of cards' will all come crashing down.

I usually blog about stuff too, but have been thinking about quitting the blog. In part, because some people... Well... Let's put it this way - it would allow me to step away from some great big jerks.


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