Feeling like a writer fraud…. I think this happens to all of us authors, for various reasons. A big case of frauditis struck me this morning, and it’s all because I needed to look something up in one of my Herezoth novels.
That happens when you’re writing a companion novel. I’m only a chapter or two in, so this is the first time I’ve gone ahead and pulled up the file for one of my older books.
I got to reading a page or two of “The Magic Council,” and I felt like some small changes in wording could make a positive difference. Some reviews of “The Crimson League” mention it’s a little wordy. So now I’m feeling very, very tempted to put this new novel on hold while I fix up the first novels, then hire an editor to do more work.
Yes, I am feeling the effects of “frauditis” very strongly. Every artist knows the symptoms:
- that unnatural warm tingle down your spine as you think, “What have I done, thinking I could publish? That I could write something worth reading?”
- that longing to go back in time and write things differently, or go about the process a different way
- that tendency to compare your work with the great success stories of history
- that overall cloud of doubt, shame, and self-criticism that yells at your inner perfectionist to come out and play
FRAUDITIS AS COMMON WRITER’S COLD
I figured comparing frauditis to the common cold works on a number of levels. And those levels exemplify the major takeaway points of this post:
First, frauditis is COMMON. It afflicts all of us. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a good writer. And it doesn’t mean, if you’re not quite there yet, you don’t have potential. It’s part of the process, part of being an artist, and it even has some positive results: it keeps our egos in check.
Secondly, frauditis takes a toll. Like the common cold, when we have it we’re not at 100%. We might not get quite as much written, or feel quite as excited or energized about our ongoing projects. The quality of our writing might drop.
That is okay for a short period. We can write more later. We can rewrite. The side effects are nothing to beat yourself up about. Get wrapped up in self-judgment about how much you’re producing, and you might find yourself starting a vicious, self-perpetuating circle that further depletes you as well as your writing.
Thirdly, like the common cold, frauditis should be something short-lived. At least, it’s nothing to be alarmed about if it flares up once in a while, and then fades as natural, wonderful excitement about your story and characters takes over. That’s how it SHOULD work.
Extended, chronic frauditis that impedes productivity is something else: an entirely different issue that could well have serious underlying causes, such as depression or anxiety disorders. That isn’t what I’m talking about here (though you are definitely not alone if you’re in that boat. I’m right there with you.)
MY NEXT STEPS
Despite my frauditis, overall I have pretty good reviews. I worked extensively with beta readers and wrote for years before I published, so it’s not as though I put out a first draft or something like that. But I still think I could represent myself better.
More importantly, perhaps, I think I could do my characters greater justice. Time to get a second edition together, I think! Reviews of the first editions are strong enough that I plan to keep them available for purchase on Kindle. This is for a number of reasons:
- Anyone who downloaded an older version can download a future, updated version for no charge. Amazon has that awesome policy.
- I updated the book’s description so that it notes an updated version is coming. So people should know to hold off buying if they don’t want the first version. (Looking forward to a BIG re-release celebration!!!)
- My reviews are largely positive, and I don’t want to lose record of them or what aid they are responsible for prompting Amazon’s computer system to give me in terms of promotion.
- I’m not really marketing or selling my trilogy right now anyway. Sales are so slow they’re pretty nonexistent, so this is largely a non-issue anyway.
I’ve been considering putting together second editions for a while. Now that I have a job, I can do that in my off time and not be stressed about finding work.
I think the extensive distance I have from my trilogy–not to mention my experience writing this blog–will help me a LOT. Returning to it will help me refresh my knowledge base about Herezoth while I work on my companion novel. And it will be crazy fun to return to my characters!