Portrait of an Anxious Writer, the Sequel

Novelist Joseph A. West, author of the GUNSMOKE novels (among many others) read my previous post on this topic and sympathized with Sanda’s anxiety. He, too, knows it all too well ("writing is a lot of agony and damn little ecstasy," he tells me).

My worst
bouts of dark depression come after I’ve sent in the manuscript. After a week
with no word from New York the conversation between my wife and myself always
runs something like this:

"Well Emily, that’s it. The end. The end of everything."
"What are you talking about?"
"Brent hates the book. He probably thinks it’s the worst piece of shit
that’s ever been written in the entire history of the world. Maybe in the entire
history of the universe."
Emily, her head bent to the embroidery on her lap: "Don’t you think if the
book was bad he’d have called and told you so?"
"Hell no. He’s so appalled by its shitiness he’d been struck dumb, maybe
even blind. He may have shown it around to other publishers as the worst book
ever written and they’ve also been struck dumb and blind. In one fucking stroke
I could have single-handedly destroyed the whole New York publishing
"I thought the book was fine."
"You’re my wife. Don’t you think you may be just a wee bit
"No. And I also think you’re nuts."
I shake my head. "It’s the end, the end I tell you. I knew that book was a
piece of fucking crap from the first word to the least.God, I may have killed
Brent. He could have read the damn thing and suffered a massive stroke."
"I’m outta here," Emily says."I have to put on the potatoes."
And me, I call after her: "I’m doomed, I tell you, doomed."
Then to myself: "I should have done like my old grandpappy told me to do
and become a plumber." 

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