Writers' Embarrassing Ilnesses - a literary diagnosis
27th August 2012
Here in the UK, there is a popular TV series called Embarrassing Illnesses - in which people bare all in front of the camera - usually to a friendly, understanding doctor and an audience of millions. People love it. Anyway, it occurred to me that writers tend to have their own unique problems, too. But these are rarely talked about in public. Here, then, is a list of examples: writers' embarrassing illnesses, plus some handy solutions. (Important disclaimer: if in doubt, always consult your GP or professional health practitioner.)
Symptoms: sitting at ones desk, staring into space for long periods of time. Also spilling wine down ones shirt-front or white-cotton dress as the case may be (or both as the case may be). In chronic instances there is a morbid preocupation with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Solution: go for a long walk in the fresh air, following which the symptoms usually clear up all by themselves.
Symptoms: piles and piles of reference books all over the desk or, in chronic cases, loitering on every available armchair - and even sometimes upon the floor.
Solution: use the internet more regularly. Google at least twice daily. All the information is there. N.B. this also frees off more space on your desk for more important things. Like chocolate.
Premature Publication Syndrome
Symptoms: novels full of irrelevant repetition and hyperbole, as the writer and publisher rush into print far too quickly. This is very dissatisfying for the reader.
Solution: Undertake a process of re-writing, and then edit at least twice daily for a period of several weeks.
Symptoms: red face and irritability caused by a lack of sufficient praise and/or positive reviews in the press or on amazon. The patient can become morose, anti-social and tends to suffer from a persecution complex.
Solution: join a support group and talk it over. Note: this might not solve the problem. But it does give the sufferer reassurance that they are not alone, especially in terms of being unbearably self-centred and precious.
Symptoms: feelings of malaise, indifference and exhaustion after the publication of ones masterpiece.
Solution: This debilitating complaint is usually only temporary. It tends to right itself as soon as the next big idea for a best-seller comes along. Warning: members of ones immediate family and social circle (if still applicable) will possibly need support during the early stages of the illness until the situation is fully resolved.
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Any more suggestions for writers? If you are one or even if you know of any of these unfortunate individuals yourself, speak up! Don't be embarrassed.