Friday, February 22, 2013

A Plague of Worms

Just when I felt in the groove, so to speak, those little worms of doubt once again began to nibble at my psyche. Made some sales, work-in-progresses going well, got galleys to proof, etc. I even made another couple of submissions to keep the flow going. Things appeared to be going great, I thought, and that's where the little bastards bite me in the ass and bring me back to Earth (as opposed to Greater Bingattra or wherever my brain happens to take me.)

The worms had lay doggo for so long that I was barely aware that they were still with me.  But they were doing the nasty down there, below my level of consciousness, working their insidious way into my brain, waiting for an opportunity to pounce, waiting for that first hint of vulnerability. That happened within hours of submitting a story to the steely eyes of an editor and their demonic horde of slush readers.  (Or maybe that's the drugs talking? I just had back surgery and they give really, really good pain pills.)

The first bite came from the anticipatory fear that I somehow missed an irreparable error through ignorance or haste.  Would that obvious error be gleefully pointed out by the knowledgeable editor? Or perhaps my protagonist had inexplicably acquired a new name halfway through the text and I, being sick to death of proofreading the same damn lines over and over and ..., well, did I make that rookie mistake or not?  Back to reread the draft too make sure and, on that rereading I wondered if the protagonist was behaving out of character, or - worse - had knowledge of something they have no way of knowing?  Why did these minor characters randomly pop into existence? Did they emerge from the quantum foam, without any justification within the story?  Worse, I worried that the plot twists and turns might appear illogical, as it they had been made simply to provide continuity to the story.

I go through these periods once in the while and, somehow, sharing the misery lessens the pain. I know others suffer the worms as well and to those of you who do, I want you to know that you aren't alone. On reflection, perhaps these sorts of doubts make me more attentive to details, to perfecting the craft that I being to my work,

Perhaps I see the peanuts and not the elephant.

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