Not the successful ones, anyway, and today we’re discussing why.
Last week I talked about distracting The (Anxiety) Blob with reading, work or writing. Much of the time that’s all it takes to convert anxiety into focus – at least for a little while.
Sometimes, however, a anxiety doesn’t recede with distraction. It dogs you like a pack of brain-eating zombies – slow moving, but not put off by your foolish flight and desk-chair barricades. The longer you run, the bigger and more determined that anxiety becomes, until you feel like the lone survivor of the Brain-Eating Zombie Apocalypse.
(Let’s pause to welcome the new arrivals, who got here by Googling “Zombie Apocalypse Brain Eaters.” Nice to see you. No brains here. Please don’t drool on the carpet.)
This is where friends come in.
Rejected queries hit like a punch to the gut. Editors’ passes (kind ones as well as blunt ones) can leave even the most talented author wondering whether the cracking sound she just heard was the final door between her desk and the drooling zombies clamoring for what little remains of her brain.
When those moments strike, authors need both non-writing friends to provide perspective and writer friends to jump into the gap and mow those anxiety-zombies down. When anxiety refuses to recede through distraction, pick up the phone, hop on twitter or email, and find someone to help you pull yourself out of the funk. Go for cupcakes. Watch a movie. Grab a latte and talk – the subject isn’t even important, as long as it’s not “I Am Failure, Son of Failure, and my Fail Moves Mountains With Its Failness” – or if it is, you’d better have an amazing squad of anxiety-zombie hatchet men doing their best to persuade you that isn’t true.
In my case, the Zombie Squad takes the form of my writing group – the infamous SFWG – and an awesome local author friend I meet for breakfast every week or two. When I start to worry, or feel the horde of anxiety zombies breathing down my neck, these amazing women always have my back. I depend on non-writing friends also – they’re equally important, and not to be underestimated – but one benefit of author friends and especially solid critique groups is that the best ones are also emotional SWAT teams on call. Anxiety calling? Good news to share? Curious about whether your character needs a pet tarantula or if ferrets are more his style? A good group of friends helps with all these things and more.
No one defeats the shambling hordes alone, and no author flourishes without companions either. Find some you can trust. You’ll see what I mean.
An ironic postscript that proves my point: author friend and fellow SFWG member Arabella (D’Bella) Stokes is riffing on exactly the same theme in her blog post today. Head over and check it out – but before you go, hop into the comments and let me know how YOU deal with the zombie anxiety horde!