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Friday, November 19, 2010

Fear and (Self) loathing in writer-land

I saw an interesting post at Nathan Bransford's blog: What's your greatest fear as a writer?

It intrigues me (but doesn't surprise me) that the most common fears all have to do with self-doubt. Are we good enough, smart enough, and darn it, will people like us?

(and, as an aside, I definitely agree with his postulation that writers tend to be more "intense." The comments prove it, and most people who know me well would definitely call me "intense;" actually, they would use other words to describe me--high-strung, neurotic, spends way too much time "thinking" & can't be a well-adjusted person--but "intense" is the nicest one, so let's stick with that one).

I thought about this topic for a while. There are a million small fears associated with writing (and often repeated in the comments section of Nathan's blog):
What if my writing isn't good enough?
What if I get an agent, said agent pimps my novel everywhere, and no publisher buys it?
What if I publish a novel and everyone hates it?
What if my first novel stinks so bad that no publisher will even look at my next one?

One of my smaller fears might explain why I have a novel that's been languishing in the editing stage for several years: what if I publish one novel and can't write another one? What if, for some reason, nothing I write afterwards can live up to that novel; or what if, somehow, writing that novel seems to suck all the creativity out of me and I can never write again. Irrational, I know. But it's a real fear. AND, after I finished my languishing novel, I went through a two-year writer's block (self-fulfilling prophecy? or creative drain fear-come-true?).

But after much thought, I realized that my biggest fear as a writer is not being able to write. I fear debilitating diseases like Alzheimer's or dementia (I also fear blindness, rheumatoid arthritis in my hands, etc., but there are blind writers, writers who have injured/missing limbs, etc. It would be tough, but I'd have to adapt and learn to be strong like those writers). But Alzheimer's and dementia . . . I don't even want to think about it.

I do try to do something about it. Some research suggests that you can help ward off or delay Alzheimer's and dementia by keeping the brain active. So my daily jigsaw puzzles and little MSN puzzle and brainteaser games actually have a higher purpose. I may look like I'm playing, but I'm really staying healthy!

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