By Sarah Reichert
We're alcoholics and psychotics. We're sufferers of depression and anti-hubris. We sit alone and struggle with the worlds inside our own heads, sometimes to the failure of the outside lives we have. Like many creative professions, writers have been known to live chaotic existences, peppered with self-destructive behaviors, and emotional upheavals. But sometimes the problems are less dramatic.
Ø The Burnt Pancake Principle. Other people can focus on one or two things at a time. If you're a mom, chances are you focusing on about twenty. But when a writer is stuck on a plot snafu in their mind small tragedies occur. Curbs are hit, pancakes burn, remotes are randomly shelved in the freezer. It’s a real problem because smoke alarms and jolting tire flattening can really interrupt that perfect train of thought.
Ø I'm Dying of Dengue Fever, or Cancer… Creativity doesn't stop when your fingers are off of the keys. The constant question, “What If…” allows us to write intriguing stories but it also makes mountains out of moles and convinces us that the scratch we got from a bunny trapped in the window well will surely result in Tularemia, meaning we only have about a month to finish that novel before we succumb to fever and inescapable death. The plus side: you have new inspiration to finish.
Ø The Ruin of Books: Becoming an Accidental Editor. I love to read. I could spend days curled up with my yet-to-read piles of books. But ever since I grew my hard editing eye (pretty sure that’s an actual condition and I'll probably be blind in a week, causing me to have to learn to read braille and find conflict resolution by feel alone) it has become increasingly difficult to turn it off and just enjoy the story. Worse, I feel proud when I find mistakes in a professionally published novel. In your face, author who is, otherwise, better than me in every other way...
Ø Being an Introvert While Simultaneously Having to Promote Your Work. I don't like talking about myself unless it’s to tell others about my shortcomings (a great technique for lowering expectations). In this world of self-back-slapping and “read me-read me!” cries, I still feel uncomfortable promoting my work. And I get tired of people telling me to get over it. That’s not who I am. If I could quietly sneak a reader my book, assure them it's perfectly fine to burn it if it’s as horrible as I think it is, and slink back into the shadows, I would be much more comfortable.
What other troubles plague you as a writer?