Bum dum DA DA dum BUM– MYYYYY Neuroses!

Neurosis the first: 

Lately I’ve been wondering if perhaps I am not analytical enough of fiction.  I am more concerned with the question “Is this a good story?” than I am any other.

And I wonder if that might be hurting me.

It’s not that I think I’m a terrible writer, or anything.  I can write, and I can write well. Unless my friends are lying to me, which is possible I suppose, at times my stuff has made people shiver. But I wonder if my focus on telling a good story instead of “resonance” or other of the literary overthinking that sent me screaming from grad school is taking something away from my work, making the stories less salable.  Which is stupid, and yet…

Neurosis the second: 

Seven publishing professionals, including three writers, three editors, and an agent, all of whom range from “fairly” to “very” successful in today’s field, have said good things about my work.  One called my stuff “publishable, strong prose” which sounds like faint praise, but it meant a lot.  One said that although she was passing on the project, “your writing is good.”

My beta readers, although they had suggestions for changes and some complaints, universally praised the book.  One, who has never met me and doesn’t know me from the second guy to the right, said “If I had paid for this book, I’d consider it money well spent.”  These are all people who I know can write.

And yet…

I feel like I’m flailing in the dark.  I try to remain sanguine about the whole publishing dice-shoot.  But the truth is, every rejection sucks.  It’s like getting hit by a thousand tiny cuts–no one of them hurts, but all together, they form a droning sound that says “YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME.”

To shut that voice up, I started working on a new project, but now that I laid down the first few hundred words, I’m going to finish some crit-work.

Neurosis the third:

I almost constantly worry that I’ve only got one or two good ideas in me, and then I’ll be stuck as “That Guy who wrote two books and then fizzled out.”  I do not want to be that guy.

So there it is.  The neuroses that make me the neurotic writer I am.  What are yours?

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About Michael Johnston

Father of a fifth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Forty-six years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA
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