I once read that the occupational disease of writers is depression. It’s not difficult to know why. Shall I suggest some reasons?
- The sheer all-but-impossibility of writing a perfect piece of work.
- The isolation.
- Low (if any) income. (The trend these days is ever lower,)
- Negative response to one’s work, which these days includes dismissive criticism on the anonymous internet.
- The decline of reading in our modern world.
- The burden of making one’s work known in the world.
- The ever-narrowing world of publishing.
That’s a start. Feel free to suggest more.
It’s the first I’d like to discuss.
When I speak to classes of young writers one of the bits of advice I offer is, “If you write something once, and you think it’s good, you are in trouble. If you write something, and you think it’s not very good, that’s great. You know you need to work on it.”
I remember an editor once telling me, “I really dislike working with smug writers.” When I asked him what he meant he said, “Good writers know there is a long process in producing something good. Inexperienced writers assume what they have written is done.”
If I had the patience, or for that matter, income, I would take any work I’ve written and worked on and put it aside for six months (maybe a year) and then come back to it. It’s not that the work will have changed, but my objectivity, my ability to see my work with clearer perception.
When I work on a book I usually do so with my desktop computer. Now and I again I switch the text over to a laptop. It always startles me that by so doing I see things that I missed when only working in my routine fashion.
Crucially, by the same token, I have a couple of friends—good readers—who are willing to read a new book. What they say is always valuable, and usable.
One of the myths of art is that it’s created by one person. Not true. Ever. All art is collaborative.
Like life itself.