East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The just-off-the-roller-coaster effect

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treThere’s this folk tale, which is quite popular.
It tells of writing as a toilsome activity, built on pain and suffering.
Putting words on the page, we are told, is soul-draining and cruel.
And yet, ah, what can a poor artist do, when his muse, or daemon, or whatchamacallit, pushes them forward mercilessly?

And of course this is just so much rubbish, of the kind usually used by posers trying to get a free pass by playing the always popular part of the tormented artist.

On the other hand, there is a bad side to writing.
And I don’t mean the aching hands and the bad hours, the meager returns and the leery attitude of those that have “a serious job” like, for instance, gerbil farming.

To me, the bad side of writing is the just-off-the-roller-coaster effect.
That happens as soon as I’ve finished something to my satisfaction – be it a story, some gaming-related writing, or some essay or paper.
The moment when I know all I could put to page is on the page, and I have to hit “Save” and get me a cup of tea.
In that moment, the backlash can be bad.
Because in that moment, exactly then, and for a variable time, usually about one hour, I have the absolute certainty that what I just finished is the suckiest piece of horrid junk that ever was committed to paper (or file).

And I am pretty sure the reason for this sudden and inevitable pit of depression is somewhat biochemical, and connected with the sudden stopping of a number of creative processes.
A form of depression.

Thankfully, when the text comes back from the beta readers, and I have a go at it for the revision and the follow-up (self-publication, forwarding to an editor etc), my perspective is back in its cheerful, devil-may-care disposition, and I’m able (hopefully) to see the good and the bad and work to tip the balance towards the good.

But the just-after-finishing-a-story moment, boy, it’s a drag.

And yes, I just finished the revision of my written-on-a-dare novelette.
And you know what?
I’m pretty sure it sucks big time.
On the plus side, I’ve created a character I’m deply in love with – the story can be lost to all hopes, but the character will come back.
I’m already getting out of my black mood…

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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