Tag Archives: Roger Ebert

Sophomore novel angst!

For the record, I’d like to state that Rogert Ebert is an awesome human being, and a great writer.  I still miss him on TV with Siskel (it wasn’t the same with Roeper!).  They had such a fabulous bickering rapport.  Here’s an outtake video of them riffing off each other:

I love the way they seamlessly slide into the announcement at the end.

Today I am going to comment on the subtitle of my blog, which is Sophomore Novel Angst.  This is a new feeling that has manifested with increasing urgency over the past few months.  I have, as a dutiful writer, always been angsty about my work (it’s in the Tortured Artist Handbook, or How to Get Laid if You’re Not Good-Looking*), mostly fretting about it being not good enough.  In past years I have always talked myself down from the ledge by telling myself, “so what if it sucks?  Who gives a shit!  It’s not like it’s going to get published.”  It was a nice double whammy, simultaneously reducing my anxiety level and turning my inability to get published into a comfort.

Now, I am obviously in a different position–a lucky and privileged one, but also one with higher stakes.  As I am struggling to find a strong narrative voice for my next novel, my brain hums with a new brand of crippling terror: “oh shit, what if I can’t do this again?  What if this book completely sucks and my editor turns it down?  Or worse, my agent won’t even consider it good enough to go out on the market?  FUCK!”

There is no seeming end to this sort of self-defeating freakout.  It makes me yearn for a security blanket, a stick to bite down on, a heavy narcotic.  I call this unfortunate condition sophomore novel angst, and it courses through my entire blood stream like an ever-duplicating virus.  I have yet to find an effective coping mechanism; hopefully I will happen upon one before my brain implodes from its self-inflicted pressure.  Hopefully, it will not involve Heminwayesque amounts of alcohol.

* I read some study once that claimed creative people have more sexual partners than the average person.  This may mean that being creative is attractive.  This may also mean that creative people are such a pain in the ass to live with that partners don’t generally stick around for long, and thus angsty artists have to find more bed pets.