Sunday’s Snippets: What Are You So Afraid Of?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

Lately, I’ve been hearing from writer friends that they are stuck, or sick of their novel, or nervous about it, or afraid they’re not good enough, or . . . well, you get the idea.

Hey, folks—we’re not alone!  Take a look at some famous writers, as quoted in

W.O.W.: Writer’s on Writing by Jon Winokur on the subject of angst (emphasis added):

Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves. ~ Paul Theroux

I used to greet each morning spitting blood in the washbasin, having the night before gnashed the inside of my mouth while dreaming I had misplaced a comma in my writing of that day, throwing off the pattern of speech given to the character who lived two hundred years ago.  Years later a dentist asked me if I had a history of mental illness, because the mentally ill often exhibit the advanced molar grindings I did. ~ Thomas Sanchez

I find writing very nervous work.  I’m always in a dither when starting a novel—that’s the worst time.  It’s like going to the dentist, because you do make a kind of appointment with yourself. ~ Kingsley Amis

If I feel it [angst], I feel it now and then, but I don’t try to cherish it nor do I feel especially proud of it.  It comes on me, let’s say, as a headache or toothache might come, and I do my best to discourage it. ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Writing is the diametric opposite of having fun.  All of life, as far as I’m concerned, is an excuse not to write.  I just write when fear overtakes me.  It causes paralytic terror.  It’s really scary just getting to the desk—we’re talking now five hours.  My mouth gets dry, my heart beats fast.  I react psychologically the way other people react when the plane loses an engine. ~ Fran Lebowitz

All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique.  All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up. ~ James Baldwin

It’s a nauseous process. ~ Rebecca West

See you day-after-tomorrow on Tuesday’s Tutor!



Filed under Snippets

4 responses to “Sunday’s Snippets: What Are You So Afraid Of?

  1. OMG this is HILARIOUS!! This is all so true!! Where did you find this great stuff??

  2. Judy

    Is it anything similar to what we used to call ‘anticipatory anxiety’ , but worse?

  3. benschwensch

    Amy and Judy—thanks for comments: I think I listed the book of quotes these came from—W.O.W Writers on Writers by Jon Winokur. And isn’t it refreshing to see that writers like James Baldwin, Jorge Luis Borges, and so many others run with the same angst we lesser-known writers do? And it sounds VERY like “anticipatory anxiety” to me!

  4. Pingback: Character Development in Five Easy Steps (+ Snippet) | A Place That Does Not Exist

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