Writing Makes You Crazy

People often associate writers and mental instability. I imagine a twitchy recluse surrounded by empty whiskey bottles (or is that just me?). I've always assumed writers start out off balance - that's why they write. It's their much-needed outlet for the madness in the attic. drinkingauthor

But I've been doing it for a few years now, and I'm starting to think it's the reverse.

See, dear reader, I've always been an even-keeled gal. Very little upsets me and I'm pretty good at rolling with life's endless surprises. I would never have considered myself moody or depressed. And I would  never have thought of myself as bi-polar. I know several people who suffer from such chemical imbalances and was grateful I never experienced it. I was even-keeled all the way, baby.

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But then I started writing and, more significantly, I started sharing my writing with other writers, friends, family, agents. I met many people in the publishing world, heard the stories, and read the articles. You might think learning about the industry I'd wandered into would be a good thing - after all, knowledge is power. Sadly, the more I knew, the worse I felt.

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There are a lot of writers out there trying to get a book published, and a lot of books that actually get published. The difference between the two numbers, well, let's just say an anthill and Mt. Everest are closer together. It's daunting. Never mind the subjective nature of the biz, the impressive word counts other writers seem to create in their sleep, and the challenge of finding the right story idea that's surprising yet familiar enough to fit into the pre-requisite publishing categories.

It makes a writer question everything. Am I original enough? Is my story relatable? Am I writing fast enough? Will anyone like what I write? Why bother if there are already fifteen apocalyptic baking contest books?

And the answer to all of these questions is "I suck." I'm not good enough, I'm not creative enough, I'm not prolific enough. The descent into this misery pit goes quickly, and then you're stuck in the sticky goo of paranoia and insecurity.

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And here's the crazy part. I don't spend all my time in that pit. The very next day, I'll sprout wings and soar out of there with ideas bursting, witty banter flowing onto the page, and plot twists that would make a CW scriptwriter jealous.

These ups and downs, they happen a lot more than I'm comfortable with, but, dear reader, I'm learning to embrace them. That pit, it always has an escape hatch but I can't find it if I stop looking. And the writing life outside that pit is so spectacular, so dynamic, it's worth the occasional descent.