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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I don't think any of this is exclusive to writers. Either way, if you put something out there you can bet that someone is going to shoot it down - so develop a thick skin and get on with it. No one ever died of a bad review.
I never said it was exclusive to writers, and I also didn't say anyone ever died of a bad review.

Maybe in dancing around the impolitic so much I failed to convey that it was really about what people do when they are struggling, and at no point did I say that was exclusive to writing.

You see, it's comments like this one that make me feel like someone just said, "shut the f*** up, I don't want to hear it" and knowing a few people who've been discouraged lately, I can imagine exactly why they won't talk to anyone about it, because someone will just smack 'em.

We're piss poor at being supportive of each other.
I don't think that being hard on someone is the best help that you can give. I'm not a fan of telling people to suck it up, especially if they're struggling already. It's a reality that sucking it up is what ultimately has to happen in order to move on, but that happens after processing. As you said, each person is responsible for their feelings. That's a leap that is made when the individual is ready & not when a friend, peer or family member pushes him or her into the deep end. Frustrating, but true.

Good on ya for finishing your book after struggling. Very cool. Everyone finds their own way through the writing wilderness - sounds like you learned a lot & had fun with it.

You're comparing apples and oranges with the tragedy in Virginia and writer depression/self-doubt/issue of your choice. I don't see how that's relevant, really. These two issues/events are in no way analogous and the result is vaguely insulting. To me, at least.
Which, of course, has nothing to do with the point I was attempting to make.
Yes it is, but human beings don't generally work like that, do they? I mean, in the time it's taking us to read and post to this thread, a couple of dozen children will have died because they don't have clean water to drink. But that doesn't stop us debating crime fiction, which is trivial in comparison. You can always trump any discussion by reference to some greater tragedy...whether it's a bad review, or a terrible day at work, a row with a partner or another rejection, it would all pale if you took a walk on a children's ward.

And yet we complain about the little things in our lives, maybe because anywhere else lies madness. I don't see this as being any different. Yeah, in the grand scheme of things, it's only books and self-doubt, not that big a deal. But in the grand scheme of things, almost everything is not that big a deal.
Writing is so difficult. For those who write novels, the business aspect (i.e.sales) takes over eveything. For me, qa short story writers, self-doubt is a way of life because I was raised to think the most I could hope for was a clerical job with benefits and a husband. This leads to believing every negative comment and pushing aside anything else. You are an imposter, a poseur, if you hope for anything more. This is not depression, it is realism. My writing group did an intervention yesterday to dissuade me from this sort of thinking yet went on to tell me I needed to rewrite my first two chapters. How can I think I am doing okay amidst this?
All of this is trivial compared to anything else but it is our lives.
What's interesting is that I don't find the writing hard at all. Of course you want people to like your work, and of course there are ups and downs that go with that when people don't like it...

Writing is, for me, the easy part. But I'm not saying anything else on it. I just feel very guilty for not checking up on friends sometimes - it isn't like we check in at the office and can see when people are up and down. How do we know when people are having a tough time if we don't let ourselves be there for them somehow?

What I really learned this morning was that I need to remember to tell people when they matter to me. In this case I'd almost let the recent bad experience with someone else keep me from passing on a simple encouragement - I had to get over my own insecurity from the last time and not hold that against someone else.

Sorry, wasn't all about the writing. Just happened to involve a writer.

And I think the person who bit my head off is unbalanced, personally. But that doesn't mean they didn't hurt my feelings - they did. And I'm not so hard and insensitive that I won't admit that.
I'm not being clear here. The writing is the great part of it for me. The hard part is exposing yourself to the world and/or having to promote yourself. If we could write in a vacuum, wouldn't that be great? Oh right, I did that for years and to what end?
I hear you, Patti. The thing is, writing is about communication. Most writers write because they have an inner imperative to express thoughts or ideas through words, and most are writing to communicate with others as well as themselves. Writing and not showing/sharing with others is...well, you can keep a journal with your thoughts, short stories, etc., if you want to just keep it personal. But that's not the point for most writers, is it? We want to share our stories.

We all have inner critics, often far more harsh than the real life ones. I struggle with negativity, too - this sucks, I suck, why did I think I could do this, etc., etc., barf-o-rama). When I catch myself doing that, I have to stop the crap talk before I freeze up and stop writing entirely. Taking crits from other writers isn't easy, but I appreciate having someone take the time and energy to give me constructive feedback. My work is way, way better because of it & I constantly re-frame criticism into learning opportunities to shut up the "see? told ya it sucked" voices. It's all about perspective and awareness - I can't help that I tend to perfectionism and thinking my writing sucks, but I can shift that when I catch myself getting stuck in it.

Jeez. I sound like a total psycho. Maybe I am broken. But hey, don't call the doctor! All things considered, I wouldn't want to be doing anything else and I'm generally pretty A-okay with who I am.
I've found that writers here (and in general, for the most part) are supportive of one another. Mostly nice things are said here, and the crits are subtle and tactful.

The Blue Meanies of the writing community...well, they can pick up their toys and go on home. Nobody wants to play with them anyway.

We all need a shoulder to cry on occasionally. No shame in that. It doesn't mean were broken, necessarily, only human.
It's the same in most industries where there are one group of people putting all their emotional and personal investment into producing a product for an audience. The reaction of that audience or, sometimes, others in the same provision industry can have a profound effect on everyone around them.

Try being in the IT industry :) There are days when you feel personally responsible for every ill in the entire known universe. You can imagine the feeling of self-worth that you get when the entire IT industry is blamed because - oh I don't now - somebody never bothered to sit down and think through something.

Sure there's some crap IT programs out there - just the same as there's some crap writing. There's some great stuff in both camps as well - and then there's the great middle where it's good and there's an audience that will get it and there's an audience that will loath you for even trying.

What I do when I get down / feel insecure is to sook for a few hours and then press on - not an ideal methodology but I've been working on refining it for years now :)
For me, it's the art that breaks the artist. People think you're either born mad or you're not. I think it goes both ways. The brain is a highly adaptable and malleable muscle affected by everything it comes in contact with. As writers, we're chasing intangibles that exist mostly in our own heads, an insane prospect in itself. All of our thoughts change the way our brain works, especially if we think a certain way repeatedly. And we're not only chasing ideas, we're evaluating their worth. It makes sense that we easily confuse our thoughts for our self.

You know, I was going to write more here, but now I'm thinking about 32 dead people, guns, and culture.

It's enough to drive a guy insane.


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