Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Writer’s Self-Doubt

"Is it too many pages long for this many words?


"Then tomorrow I’ll fear it’s too few. Too many long paragraphs condensing my fiction. Every reader will hate them.

"Except when I scan, I’ll find most are five lines long.

"Will those bloat out on a Kindle screen? Will everyone think I’m wordy? If not, then I’ll fear I have too limited a vocabulary. My expressions are too mundane, not worth interest. And if my prose is unoriginal, then so may be my ideas. Perhaps the premise was neat, but after a few pages it’ll dull.

"That’s the next terror: that I’m using common words to describe what’s been written before. Six sweet friends will assure me that no, I’m an idea machine and this part is funny and this part is quirky and this part has never before been seen in any library

"So roots the anxiety that I’m too unorthodox, introducing too many unusual items for the average reader to follow. Can I only service a niche audience? Which niche audience? How will they find me? How will I find them, and by the time I do, will someone else have come up with all my ideas? What if there is no John Wiswell niche?

"Or what if my novels lack the intangibles, the inarticulatables, the very arbitrary essences that will allow the chosen few who would otherwise enjoy my books to instead drop them as trite? The things I can’t prepare for, plot out, edit in or advertise? What if being good enough reduces to something as simple as, “You can’t be”?"


  1. It would probably bode well for readers if more writers had this level of anxiety over their know, assuming they also stay out of the looney bin.

  2. I find that even my favorite authors sometimes have paragraphs, sentences, and words that are farily usual, normal.

    I have also read some people's stories where every paragraph, sentence, word is so unusual and unique, I almost don't know what the heck they're even talking about.

    I think it's a balance, one that you have.

    My tactic: I post rants titled, "My Dead Hookers," and "Me and His Balls," and so when I post something normal, maybe people are relieved : )

  3. Dude that hurt my head. I never stress about these things, it's the small joy of not being published. hehe..well there had to be something didn't there? ;)

  4. If you didn't have these doubts, I think it would mean you didn't care, and not caring is the only sure indicator that it really can't ever be good. And I think wrestling with these questions is the best indicator that you're doing as much as you can right. And I think you'll probably wrestle with them even if you believe that sentiment to be true.

    I wish that sounded more comforting. Best.

  5. That's when you know how much you care about something. Keep up the good fight, John. Appreciate you and your wor(l)ds.

  6. I have to agree with what Erin said.

    Very often, one reads their favourite author only to find regular 'stuff'. Then again, we dig through the piles of rubble to find the occassional gem hidden within.

    I may not always 'get' what you've written, John, but you're writing is has the 'intangibles' you speak of and is anything but trite.

  7. Your stress shows you care about your words and readers can feel that when that read your work. *head hugs*

  8. For heaven's sake, stop agonizing and send me chapter one already!

    On the one hand, I suppose it's comforting that even stellar author such as yourself feel this way. On the other, that removes none of the fear that for authors who are non-stellar (due partly to far less practice) all these concerns are justified. Guess we're all stuck with it.


Counter est. March 2, 2008