Author Intimidation Syndrome(tm)
|Yeah, that's right -- I was all over the OK Corral in AZ.|
Oh, faithful three readers, I have fallen prey to a terrible malady. It all began when I took a break from writing my latest novel to travel to Florida and then through Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. (Yes, I feel very cosmopolitan.) During this time, most of it sans Internet access (my IUD was almost incapacitating), I eagerly slurped up a dozen or so e-novels by my favorite authors.
When I returned home in early January from this whirlwind winter break, a new semester quaked and the tsunami of class preparation slammed into my tender person. Now, three weeks later, I find myself with some free time and could easily slide back to writing The Tithe. Only... Only... I can’t.
I reread the last chapter or so. I tinkered with an adjective here, a metaphor there. I got into the writerly swing of things by revising another book. But come time to jump back into The Tithe, I found myself cowed by the magnitude, the silent condemnation, the mocking rhythm, of that darned blinking cursor.
I don’t suffer from writer’s block. No, I suffer from something far less understandable and more, well, embarrassing: Author Intimidation Syndrome™. Yes, my friends, I am currently too intimated by the awesomeness of all those authors I read to dare pretend I can compare to their talent. How can I possibly write like Jim Butcher, like Ilona Andrews, like Terry Pratchett? Sure, I pen a mean research article, -- I tear up academia with my mad verbal virtuosity, yo – but how can my novels’ stilted dramatic pace, their fascination with emotional minutiae, their uneven application of witty verbal repartee, compare with the silk-smooth rhythms of fiction’s literary giants?
The first step is admitting it: I have AIS™.
Sure, I know the cure. It’s the same, extremely sage, advice my sister, Lauri, gave me when I told her a few years ago that I had been planning for a couple of decades to write a novel: Shut up and do it. I’m a firm believer that most of writing is forced labor (albeit beloved labor) with only the occasional, fairylike sprinkling of creative inspiration. Even braced with that knowledge, I find it so easy right now to continue “doing more research” by reading ever-more novels.
Cowardice: the most visible sign of AIS™.
Meanwhile, my characters patiently await me on the page. Sure, as soon as I either resolve my bout of authorly insecurities or else force myself to move on in spite of them, I’ll return to my literary babies. I just hope they’ll understand that even the most loving parent suffers from crises of confidence now and again.