On Authorial “Frauditis”

1000622_worried_man_against_white_backgroundFeeling 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.

FRAUDITIS

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!

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30 responses to “On Authorial “Frauditis”

  1. Great post today. I could relate to it to my writing. It’s always good to look at things with fresh eyes.

  2. Great post…again! You are very good at this 🙂
    Arran

  3. I’m re-editing the first book in my epic fantasy series too. My writing has changed a lot over three books! The words come so much easier, my editing is tighter, it is just better. And I used a different editor for book 1. It really shows.

    I remember seeing a tweet from Rayne Hall that said she was happy her earlier books had been done under a pen name because they were that bad! Lol. I wasn’t that smart. I’m sure I’ll keep improving. And I don’t want to make a habit out of rewriting earlier novels. THAT would be a time consuming cycle. But once, sure, my excuse is I’m going to reformat for CreateSpace!

    So, you are far from alone! I bet there is even a club out there. 😉 Good luck. Going back through earlier work can make you want to hit your head against a wall, but we all grow and learn.

    • Once does make sense, for me at least. I totally agree. I missed out on the chance to promote before release, and really try to make a splash. So I figure I can do that with the “re-release.”

      I will also refamiliarize me with my world and its first story, to write an idea I have for a companion novel from the bad side of things!

  4. I get this, but I always chalk it up to me wanting to tinker. There seems to be an urge to ‘improve’ when looking at one’s own work. A few words here, a new sentence there. I can see how writing a second edition would be beneficial and it’s an advantage of being an Indie Author. Very easy to fix things and upload a new edition that previous buyers get for free.

  5. Terrific, Victoria. I was just talking with a friend last night about how hard it is to believe others when they have complimentary things to say about our writing– it’s that Frauditis Demon at work, trying to convince us we’re fooling ourselves. It’s always comforting to know that we’re not alone in our doubts.

    • isn’t it? oh my gosh, you are right. I didn’t touch on that but it IS so hard to accept compliments as genuine! It really is. I never connected that with this issue but it’s definitely all related!

  6. Reblogged this on Self Publishing Advocate and commented:
    If you think writer’s block is bad, then you have not heard of “Frauditis”. Whilst humility is ideal, self doubt is counter productive. Read on and deal with Frauditis.

  7. I think we have to be careful about giving too much credence to reviews. Yes, we can learn things about our writing, but not everyone is correct in their evaluation. I read a introduction by J. R. R. Tolkein where he said he received two kinds of mail about Lord of the Rings: those that said he wrote too much and rambled too long, and those that said his books were too short and he should have written more. He claimed that first and foremost he wrote for himself, what he wanted to see and read. Then, if others liked it, wonderful. If not, that’s ok; you can’t please everyone. Please yourself.

  8. I thought I was the only one who looked at something I wrote and wanted to open TRACK CHANGES.

  9. I wonder if there has ever been a writer who reread his or her own work months or years later and DIDN’T find things to change? One of the benefits of writing as much as you do, Victoria, is that you continue to hone your craft and improve as a writer–so it’s natural that you’d find things to tweak when you come back to something older. Finding a balance between “that’s good enough” and “I can’t believe I published that crap” is difficult sometimes, but don’t beat yourself up! As a consumer, I love Amazon’s update policy, and that sounds like the perfect compromise if you really, truly feel you need to improve your earlier work. And heck, any excuse for a re-release celebration has to be good, right? 😉

  10. That’s an amazingly common feeling and a fitting name for it. 🙂

  11. A great post and I think, ‘Frauditis’, should become the legitimate name for this feeling! 🙂

  12. Another reason frauditis is like the common cold: there’s no known cure, no magic pill to make it instantly go away.

  13. Pingback: Monday Mentions: Book Finishers, Frauditis, & “Schmuck Bait” | fallonbrownwrites

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