For the past couple of months, Matt Haig has been blogging for The Book Trust. He's an honest guy, and a great writer, and many of his posts have struck a chord with me both as a writer and a reader.
A couple of weeks ago, he posted about the many (many many many) neuroses he has as a writer. I know A LOT of writers, and I can say that between us, we cover these particular neuroses. Several times over. I don't know many writers who aren't neurotic - but then, I don't know many people full stop who aren't neurotic in some way, and when you're doing something creative, and putting this huge chunk of your soul on show for people to judge, neuroses are pretty much inevitable.
Matt's neuroses are the inner buggings of a published author - these are the things we all have to look forward to. (Lucky us, eh?) For now though, whilst we're lingering on the slushpile, there are even more. Because, yes, we worry about what will happen once IT happens and we find our book on a bookshelf. But that's not enough to worry about, so we also develop a special set of neuroses to take us through the queries and rejections and dreams and knock-backs.
These are the Things That Make Us Anxious:
Double line spacing or 1.5? The website said double. It did. I'm almost certain of it. Guys? GUYS? Read that publisher's website as many times as you like, you'll still question whether you've misinterpreted the instructions. Then you worry you accidentally printed it at A3 and didn't notice and put it in a pink envelope and sent it to the wrong address.
Is everyone else better at editing than I am? There are mistakes hiding in my manuscript somewhere, I just can't find them. Seriously. I know you're in there, typos. You can't hide forever. Come out, come out, wherever you are... (You're going to hide forever, aren't you?)
|I could swear I put a comma there. I demand to know who STOLE MY COMMA.|
The title isn't right. It's terrible. It was a working title. why oh why didn't I change it before I sent it off? They won't like it. Why can't I EVER think of a good title? And how come everyone else can?
My crit group is going to throw me out after I offer up this piece of rubbish. Well, you can always pretend your six year-old son wrote it, can't you? But in the end, you submit it anyway, because your crit group is awesome and the worst they'll do is show you how to make it better.
Did Super Agent get my query letter? Because it doesn't matter how many hours you put into it, if they don't respond within two hours you will automatically question whether they received it or not. Maybe they got it and immediately hated it? Oh god, they did, didn't they? It's possible their dog ate it, right?
And what would a list of a slushpiler's neuroses be without the absolute classic:
Will I EVER get published? This is the only one I think there's an obvious answer to: Yes. Yes, because if you're worrying about it then it's obviously worth worrying about to you, so you'll keep writing, and you'll keep having ideas, and you'll get better at both of those things, and you'll start to understand the industry, and eventually, all of those things will fall into place and it will happen.
I'm off now to write my middle grade vampire hamster novel. It's a classic in the making, I can just feel it.