August Post: The Scary Side of Writing (Christine Brodien-Jones)

Whenever I think about the dark, scary side of being a writer my mind flies off in twenty different directions. In the course of one day there are endless things for a writer to worry about and anguish over. Okay, maybe the image of an author wrestling with her/his demons is a well-worn cliché, but the truth is: the world of publishing is often harsh, the stakes are high, and as writers competing in this unpredictable and competitive world, we struggle.
For me the most terrifying demon is the double-edged Self-Doubt/Fear of Rejection demon, which never completely goes away. Rejection pops up in countless guises: agents/editors returning your manuscript (not once, but over and over), a review that rips your newly-published book to shreds, your editor’s decision not to take your next book, news that your book is going out of print. These are just a few scenarios that can raise your anxiety level…then the anguish of self-doubt creeps in.

How have I dealt with fears and insecurities? First, I’ve had a supportive family—a husband and sons who’ve often acted as “first readers” and offered honest opinions. I’ve also been a member of an incredibly supportive children’s writers group for nearly twenty years. And I highly recommend reading books by authors, including Stephen King’s “On Writing,” Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” Brenda Ueland’s “If You Want to Write,” and Ray Bradbury's "Zen in the Art of Writing."

In his book “Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips For the 21st Century Writer," Jeff Vandermeer talks about rejection, envy and despair. Yes, the writing life is hard, he says, and it is a constant struggle. And yet: "You're living the life you want to live, and any deprivation is as much a sign and symbol of your choice as is success."

This is the life I've chosen and the bottom line is this: I sit at my desk and I write. I keep putting words on the page, even if they're rubbish. I keep going, I write.