I’m on a deadline right now. I’ve said that phrase so often, it feels like a mantra. Sometimes the deadlines are self-imposed, other times, not so much. This time, it’s both. I have a new manuscript due at Henery Press by June, and I promised it for December – gulp. And I’ve taken on a lot of blogging obligations. Oh yes, there’s those pesky romance short stories that I write for the Trues. I consider the shorts to be my writer’s version of a vacation. Different genre, different style, different outcomes from my usual fare. Did I mention I have a day job too? Yep, I’m a full time paralegal who puts in eight to ten hours a day. Then there’s eight cats, three birds, and a husband. All rescues. Well, maybe not the husband, but some days it feels that way. So, you know where the time goes.
Let me say this loud and proud, “I am not a workaholic.” My writing life is fun time for me. I manage to fit it in a couple of hours before work, a couple of hours after and one day a weekend. It works for me. I don’t feel whole without a story perking along. Sounds like I have it all figured out. Not!
Whenever I get near the end of a project, I get the heebie-jeebies. My hands sweat. I fumble for words. I just know that whatever I’ve written is the worst thing known to man and no sane person will ever want to read it. It’s happening right now. I’m sure this is the worst blog post ever. Who cares what I feel? Deep Breath. Put one finger in front of the other, and soldier on with the post.
Over the years, I’ve learned writer’s anxiety is my best friend. Articles and stories I’ve written that flowed from start to finish are my albatrosses, I worry if I type ‘the end’ and feel like Stephen J. Cannell looks when he rips the page from his typewriter. My knee jerk reaction is to put those stories in a drawer and pull them out in a month. I nearly always find they need to be handled with tongs and only from a distance. The stuff I was sure was junk, well, that’s the stuff I put away for a week, then when I pull it out, I nearly always find it’s got great bones, good storyline, and well developed characters.
The heart pounding, OMG, this is awful anxiety I feel when writing tells me that I’m hitting my own nerves. I’m going deep into the story and the characters and I am putting something of myself on the line. That’s my goal as a writer, not to change the world, but to share the human experience and have my readers enjoy the experience. I always hope that some of that painful honesty bleeds through the story to the reader and he or she comes away with something new from each of my works.
Writer’s anxiety? Embrace it; it can be your best friend.
What about you? Do you feel the gut wrenching anxiety as you write? Readers, how does a well-crafted story make you feel?