On anxiety, radio silence, and being a nutcase writer/artistic-type

First off, Happy Thanksgiving Day for us U.S. folks. That’s all I’ll say on it, since we’re already plenty flooded with holiday crap and Black Friday/Cyber-Monday jibberjabber.

Secondly, a disclaimer – the things I’m about to say here in no way are meant to indicate that I agree with, or think it’s okay for authors to behave poorly toward readers. Also, this might get long.

Okay, so.

I flopped out of NaNoWriMo this year. The Beard *might* get finished and into editing by Christmas, but it also might be a Valentines release or something. Also, the radio silence thing. I mean, not that many people, if any, really notice or give a crap at this point. But, I figure, while I have a blog, may as well at least pretend, right?

It’s not writers’ block. I have a ton of ideas and I have all of The Beard mapped out in my head. But – ugh, just sitting here facing this, my stomach is turning a little.

Turns out, I have Anxiety. And it’s rarely rational, and often not even conscious. Meaning, I just went through the past almost-two weeks freaking out that I might be having a heart problem. Thank the universe for those Any Lab Test places, because I could actually manage the cost of blood work this time, along with a trip to my doc. Everything checks out normal (knock wood). Describing in detail the shit I’ve been experiencing, doc says it’s anxiety. Therapist says it’s anxiety, and that no, it doesn’t always have rhyme or reason. Sometimes your body just misfires chemicals.

Unfortunately, it does get triggered by stupid shit, like feeling down about my writing motivation. And following my previous methods of lighting a fire under my ass just made it worse (ie, reading writer blogs, chatting with other writers, etc.). So, it’s Radio Silence for me for a while longer.

However, this brought a little perspective to a subject that seems to rear its head every few weeks or so around the book/blog-osphere. That of reviews and reviewers ‘bullying’ writers. Of course, I guess it could apply to any sort of cray-cray that occurs out there. But it was this post by Janet (or Robin?) at Dear Author that got me thinking (this time, anyway).

To be honest, not a lot of anything new can be said about the book-bully debate. It’s a tired topic, yet it comes up time and again. However, Janet’s piece begins by drawing a questioning parallel to food reviewers, Anthony Bourdain (god, I love that man), and critics of Jamie Oliver, and how no one complains about “foodie bullies.”

The thing is this (and please, PLEASE remember my disclaimer above – I am in no way defending or taking the side of the whole “bully” misuse team): Writing is a nutjob job. Even if you take away the special snowflake airy fairy bullshit about characters being personal voices inside an author’s schizoid head, even if you toss out the, ‘my stories are my baaaaaaybeeeees’ crap, it’s still an intensely personal, EXTREMELY lonely job. Add to that, the fact that most artists are artists because they have, well, that kind of fucked-up psyche that makes them creative and also opens them up to all sorts of insecurities and imbalances, and well, fuck.

I guess what I’m saying is, is it any wonder that with the internet being what it is, you have so many writers losing their perspective and freaking out on readers/reviewers?

Writing means spending a boatload of time in an ocean of uncertainty. Actually getting anything written means pulling yourself away from the distractions of the internet and DOING THE WRITING – that one thing is hard. Doing it well? Even harder. Doing well, getting it done and edited and PUBLISHED? Really damned hard. Getting it read and purchased enough to make a living so you can do it all over again? Really FUCKING damned hard. Further, unlike any other profession, artistic or otherwise, when it comes down to it, writing is a solo endeavor. Yes, you can have editors/agents/publishers if you can get on the trad route. But even then, it’s still mostly in the author’s hands. Is it any wonder there are some out there who just – don’t handle the internet well? And it is the internet – because it’s soooo easy to rattle of a blog post, comment, status update, or tweet; as a vent, distraction, or a plea for some kind of human contact that might understand or support the author plight.

Now, lest you think I’m just here to whine about how harrrrrrrd it all is, that’s not my point. My point is, fuck dude – everyone’s just human. And no, it’s NOT the same as working in food. It’s not the same as anything, except maybe painting or something. 

I guess what I’m saying is that when shit like this crops up, someone needs to be the person who just decides to be bigger and turn away. It doesn’t matter who is in the “wrong.” What matters is that everyone is human, everyone screws up, and everyone has their battles. Some might never “get it,” and be forever trolling review forums instead of writing their damned books. But honestly, if the tables were turned and I was a reviewer getting bitched at for a negative review (actually, I have been there), my response? “LOL, okay.” Because someone in that state isn’t going to change, no matter how many Dear Author posts go up.

I guess, in other words, don’t feed the trolls, no matter what side you’re on. Plain and simple.

On that note, I go back into my cave. I need a break from self-imposed ideas/ideals so I can just focus on why I started writing in the first place. As to which book that will birth first, who knows? I suppose that’s one of the perks to being a nobody, not even a little fish in a big pond, but just a tiny little tadpole!

Support small business this holiday season. Also, get your piano tuned. It’s time.

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