The other day I got an email from the editors of Unearthed, an anthology I was published in, notifying me of an upcoming review of my story. The reviewer would be doing the book as a whole as well, but my story, ‘Dog Fight’, was apparently a perfect fit for a particular topic he wanted to discuss.
I immediately started to panic.
Well, that’s not true. The meat-space me, the me that makes breakfast and sits at the computer and writes these blog entries for you, she was fine. She thought, Huh. Cool. I need to check that out when it’s live so I can see what he said. And then she got on with her painting. Or cooking. Or whatever the hell I was doing at the time.
But there was another me, the tiny lizard-brain me, that was panicking.
He hated it, Lizard-Brain hissed, while I was trying to learn how to use new painting software.* It was a perfect fit because the topic is Stuff That Is Empirically Bad.
Oh, fuck off, I thought. You know that’s not true. Who would write on that topic, anyway?
Have you never been on a forum?
…Shut up. Can you not see that I’m busy?
You’re a fake. Everyone will know. That story was shit.
Now I know you’re full of crap. That was a good story. Probably the best short story I’ve ever written. Suck it, Lizard Brain.
And there wasn’t very much she could say to that, so she just muttered to herself. And I went back to playing with the Blur tool.
Writers love to punish themselves. And not in a pseudo-sexy way, either. Judging by the number of Big Time Writers I
stalk follow on the Internet, this is not something that goes away once you gain a measure of recognition or success. Most of them have confessed, at one time or another, to this bullshit paralysis, this whiny, self-immolating asshattery, that tries to cut your legs out from under you. I’m not sure why it’s such a common affliction. Maybe it’s because we try to put logical constraints around a fundamentally illogical pursuit. Maybe it’s because we’re imaginative enough to have thought of every way this can go wrong. Maybe that old link between creativity and insanity is true. I don’t know.
All I know is three things:
1: Lizard Brain will likely always be there.
2: She’s really boring.
3: I can ignore her, and get on with my day.
By the way, if you’d like to check out the actual review of my story, it went live Wednesday. It’s over here at Speculating Canada, and I’d really like to thank Derek Newman-Stille for such a thoughtful analysis of my work.
Also, it makes me look way smarter than I am. Who doesn’t love that?
*Both easier and harder than I thought. But, unlike life, there’s always the undo button.