Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Neurosis of Writing

Here's the classic chicken vs egg question when it comes to writers: Do neurotics become writers, or does writing make one neurotic?

My editor called me the other day to ask if I could get my current manuscript in 4 weeks early so she could fit it in the November 2008 schedule. Of course, being a new author, I respond with a resounding "Yes!" even though I'd been dragging my heels on this book, feeling as though it was wrong in every way possible and having no idea how to fix it. In fact, the only thing that was letting me sleep at night was the idea the book wasn't on the schedule yet and I could ask for an extension if I needed it.

So much for that plan.

But ironically, that ended up being the good part of the conversation. Because somewhere as we were nailing down exact dates, she pays me a wonderful compliment by stating I could get this book in at the last minute, because my last one came in so clean she wasn't concerned about revisions. Most authors would be standing on a cloud right about now. But me? Noooooooo. I reply, "Yeah, but the problem is I don't have the confidence in this book that I did with the last, so I should really get this in early so we've got time to revise."

Could someone please tell me, why, why, why, why, WHY??? was I posessed to tell my editor this? Especially since the moment I got off the phone, I realized I needed to get serious about the book, sat down, wrote a more solid outline, found an ending that turns what I've written so far into gold, and the words have been rolling off my fingers ever since?? In fact, now that I've looked it over, I'm thinking it could be my best Blaze yet.

My CPs response is that I'm a writer, therefore I'm neurotic, and not to worry, because my editor deals with neurotic writers every day and probably didn't even bat an eyelash. I'm wondering how I can go from feeling completely insecure about a book, then loving it the minute I confess to my editor that the whole thing sucks.

Prescriptions, anyone?

So let me ask this. What do you think came first, the writing or the neurotic? And if you are a neurotic writer, do you have any stories to tell that would make me feel I'm not the only one?

Lori Borrill's next Harlequin Blaze, "Putting It To The Test" is an April, 2008 release, and she promises it most definitely does not suck! Of course, she's neurotic, so you should probably buy the book and see for yourself.


Michelle said...

Lori, your post made me laugh. I was going to say that being published has made me neurotic - omigod, will anyone ever want to buy anything I ever write ever again? Will I be able to write to a deadline? What do I say to someone who says they don't like my book? etc etc

But now I come to think of it, before I was published I was like - Will I ever write anything of merit? Who am I trying to kid with this writing thing? When am I going to grow up and do something worthwhile with my life? etc etc

So... not liking the conclusions I'm coming to... Perhaps I'm only neurotic about writing and nothing else in my life - what about you?

Michelle Douglas

PS My husband has a quote above his desk (can't remember who it is from) but it says "Bite off more than you can chew... then chew like mad." Perhaps as writers we should take that as our motto - if our mouths are full we can't blurt out stuff we wished we hadn't to our editors :-)

Lori Borrill said...

LOL Michelle. I would love to say I'm only neurotic about writing, but I'm sure I can dig up a few more life matters that qualify. Or at least, that's what my family would tell you.

Lois said...

Since I'm not a writer, I think I probably refrain from saying a thing. ;) LOL I imagine it depends on who it is - some start out neurotic and become writers, other become writers and then neurotic. :)


mammakim said...

LOL since I am not a published writer but I am neurotic your post made me laugh. Which is probably why I have never submitted anything.