It’s the season of scare and I’ve already had my fill. Goosebumps erupted with a vengeance at the sight of snow on my deck during Sunday’s nor-easter. My hands gnarled in torturous anticipation of having to turn my demanding 10 year old into a watermelon superhero using nothing more than a shirt, a pillowcase, and an obscure prayer to the Patron Saint of Costumes.
But that is nothing compared to the terror we authors live with every day. So today, in honour of this most spirited celebration of the frightful, I invite you deep into my writer’s lair for a peek at what this author is really afraid of.
1. Not being read. It’s like high school all over again, throwing a party and the only ones who come are your grandmother, your brother because your parents paid him, and the creepy kid down the street who picks his nose to make his own pets. Except now you’re an adult, your grandmother’s passed on, your brother’s number is unlisted and the creepy kid is a lawyer charging $300 bucks an hour for public appearances.
2. Being read. After all, if people read your book, they may not like it and will forever ridicule you. Simple trips to the grocery store will become dashes through volleys of ‘you call that a book?’ and ‘you write like a girl.’ Okay, so the second one is actually a compliment; I make no assertions for the intelligence of said critics. On the other hand, if folks read it and actually like it, they will expect you to do it again, except better and in time for the next holiday gift-giving season. Who can possibly be creative under that kind of pressure?
3. The silence. It’s classic horror movie fare: no sound at all, until a sudden crescendo of horns, strings, and gushing blood hurls you from your seat and into the popcorn you’ve just sprayed around the room. But in the book world, the silence never ends: minutes tick to hours which drag to days of no one liking your facebook posts, no new follows on Twitter, no comments on your blog … you dash with newfound hope to the ringing phone, only to be hit up for a blood donation. As if you haven’t already given your heart and soul: they want your fluids as well.
4. The uncontrolled emotion. The Vincent Price-like laughter that erupts whe people ask how much money you make as an author. The writhing sea of green that churns every time the author on the news isn’t you. The tears that threaten to drown you and the wide-eyed ingenue who gushes: ‘You’re a writer? You’re living my dream.” Embarrassment and potential legal action aside, these outbursts pose great difficulty when trying to sucessfully find one’s way home, or trying to ensure one’s children don’t go dashing to the neighbours again because ‘Mommy’s got her writing face on.”
5. An end to the insanity. Because when the tears are dried, the book is written and every last drop of wine is drained from the bottle (and sucked from the cork), the writer’s life is one that chooses us, and that we choose to accept. I mean, quite frankly, in what other profession can all your fears fuel something as cool as a woven tapestry of the written word?
So bring on the monsters. Mine are bigger. Might as well have fun with them.
Happy Halloweeen, everyone!