Time to introduce a new regular feature that I am calling, “Tales From The Edge Of My Living Room.” Here I want to share my anxieties of being a freelance writer and maybe give you updates and insights into the projects I am working on. The other main reason for starting “Tales” is I am hoping you will share with me your own writerly (yes that is a word I have made up) concerns and anxieties and news on your latest work, I would really love to hear from you.
This week I wanted to give you an insight into my worries, specifically that moment when you have finished an article and are ready to click send… As soon as the article is gone into the ether, a little voice inside my head (not a literal little voice, don’t worry) says – “Well that was a pile of shit but at least you will give the editor a good laugh”.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a commissioned article or an outline you are pitching, I seem to go through the same pits and troughs every time. I check on my emails every few minutes (damn you smart phone), wondering exactly how many ways the editor hates my work. And even though they may have previously published a piece I sent them, this is bound to be the time I get found out.
And it is not criticism or rejection I fear but my mortal enemy, the unknown. The great game of waiting and not knowing has begun. Even though I know for a fact that editors are swamped and they have a million things to do I turn the silence into a deadly game of self-loathing and begin deconstructing my work. These are the sorts of feelings that play around my mind even though I know that the work I have done is the best I could do. I really find it hard to let go of a piece until I have had the final confirmation either way, and again it isn’t the fear of failure but just the desire to gain closure on the work. I have had plenty of quick rejection emails, and some pretty quick acceptance ones, and when this happens I relax and move on. It is the curse of the long gap between correspondence that seems to freak me out.
I don’t really think my work is worthless but that’s what the tiny voice in my head tries to convince me otherwise and this is my main anxiety in being a writer. I think maybe it is a carry over from my adolescent tendency to be a little Obsessive Compulsive.
This article is not written to seek praise or affirmation from anyone, as I don’t think I’m that shallow (ok I am shallow, say that you love me). But it is motivated by a genuine desire for a discussion with other writers to see if these kind of anxieties are common and what advice, if any, is out there about putting closure on projects once that dreaded send button has been pushed. All words of wisdom are most welcome.
I am familiar with this waiting game as well. So much I have formally stopped submitting,and self-publishing all my work. Great article.
Thanks Nicholas. I am looking into self-publishing for some of my work and currently trying to write a novel, balancing this with still writing a few articles for magazines etc. Open to all ways of getting the words out there 🙂