Performance Anxiety?

That got your attention didn't it?

When one spots a title like that surely the content that follows is going to be focused on sex, right?

Wrong.

I'm sorry to disappoint you. Outside of the bedroom performance anxiety is a pretty common occurrence among those who perform before a live audience. Stage fright is the more common name for performance anxiety. Musicians, athletes, stage actors, public speakers all experience performance anxiety at one time or another.

It's that butterflies in the stomach feeling, the fear that once you step out onto that stage you're going to do something memorable in a stupid sort of way, or worse yet, you're mind will go blank, and everything you've rehearsed will be forgotten.

Writers experience that same sensation but usually for a different set of reasons. What normally goes through the writers mind as they embark upon a new endeavor is the fear that this time out will not be as good as the last time. That what they produce will be well beneath the standard they have established for themselves with their last release. That the words will not flow as well as they once did.

For the writer performance anxiety leads directly to writers block. In most cases writers block arises not from a lack of ideas, but from a lack of excitement for the writers current project, or an overwhelming avalanche of ideas the writers is having a hard time choosing from. The latter is what is currently holding me up.

My intent had been to write a coming of age story for release early next year, one I had written a screenplay for several years ago. Unfortunately the muse has other ideas as it keeps teasing me with snippets of a tale that is on my to do list, but not as close to the top as others projects I wanted to finish. Then of course there's the first draft of a novel that has been sitting on my desk for nearly six months now waiting for me to put aside these other tasks so we can spend some time together. To top it off there are a number of really neat ideas swirling around in my mind as we speak.

What I really need is a daily planner to get my limited writing time in order so I can finish some projects. I work a full time job, and while some might assume my writing is nothing more than a hobby, for me it's serious work. I worry over the placement of every word, did this sound right? will the reader understand what is really happening? am I explaining too much? too little? Striking that balance is a full time job. I could fill reams of paper explaining why something happened, but would anybody read it, it's doubtful.

My goal of course is to be able to support myself with my writing. I'm standing upon the threshold of three years as an indie writer. I've learned a lot in that time. And I've yet to make any serious money at it, but I remain optimistic that my time is yet to come. It is that optimism that compels me to sit at my desk every morning, to push through my own performance anxiety, and create what I hope will be considered a good read. 

A New Beginning

I finished my last project, Parasite around mid-October after spending over five months in the belly of the beast, so to speak, as I wrote, and rewrote the story to create the finished product. I was at that point many writers speak of, that lull between projects that for most writers, especially myself, left me feeling aimless as I cast about for the next thing to do. Not for a lack of ideas as there are currently several different stories vying for my attention.

I had spent over five months fully invested in the story and the characters, their individual hopes and dreams, theirs fears had become my own. I rode the emotional roller coaster that was my assorted characters lives. Not once, twice, or even three times, but many times as I strove to bring them to life. I believe I succeeded, but truthfully that remains for the reader to decide.

You see once I hit the publish button, and released my creation into the world, the characters I had created were no longer my own. They now belong to anyone who picks up a copy and opens the story to take a peek inside. They now wait for the reader to give them life, and I worry incessantly that maybe I wasn't honest enough to the tale. Only time will tell.

Now I find myself upon the brink of embarking on another adventure. You see when you write in the long form, such as novels and novellas, these are not things you nibble at a little here and there while you work towards completion. No, for me at least, writing a novel requires me to dive headlong into the story, to fully immerse myself in the characters, the place, the reason for the story's whole existence.To become one with the story and the characters, to feel what they feel, to experience, if only in my mind, what they have experienced. To live as they live.

While it may sound exciting, there is a downside, and that is the loss of self during the process of creation, I'm still there, physically, as I go through the motions of daily life as a model husband and dedicated worker (don't let my boss see this, he might loose it laughing at the idea), but then again I'm not really there. I'm in the story, and though I'm not sitting at my desk pounding on the keyboard, I'm still writing even if it's only in my mind. Thankfully I have an understanding wife for those moments when it seems I'm a million miles away, I'd do anything for her, short of giving up writing, but she'd never ask me to do that. 

Honesty

I've recently come to a realization in my writing, one that has been staring me in the face all along.

Call it an epiphany if you will.

Everything I've ever written I've sub-consciously compared to other writers whose work I respect, and enjoy. Usually with a deepening sense of despair at the realization that it comes nowhere close to the likes of Stephen King, Douglas Clegg, or Neil Gaiman.

My wife summed it up perfectly for me the other night as we were talking. I was telling her about my recent purchase of Stephen King's novel 11/22/63, I had recently finished Neverland by Douglas Clegg and was looking for my next read when I ran across 11/22/63 on sale for just 2.99, so I snatched it up. I would rather have gotten King's latest, Revival, but it was priced beyond my budget at $12.74 for the kindle version.

I made a comment along the lines that I'd like to be able to sell my work for that kind of money. She looked at me with an understanding smile and said "but you're not Stephen King."

My wife supports me in this crazy endeavor we call writing, though she refuses to read anything I've written with the exception of  Forget Me Not, my short story that appeared in the 2013 Backbone Mountain Review and can be read here on my blog for free if you check out the link bar above this post. 

It's obvious that I'm not Stephen King but her comment got me to thinking about how writers should be honest with themselves, accepting of the fact that we are each a unique voice, alone, yet a part of something so much bigger, like snowflakes with no two ever the same. How boring would this world be if everyone wrote like Stephen King,  Douglas Clegg, Neil Gaiman, or Joe Slosinger down the street.

I've used these three writers because I'm a fan of their work and they each have something unique to say about honesty in your writing that I want to share here.

In his book On Writing Stephen King returns to the necessity for writers to be honest with themselves and their interests: "Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex, and work."   In a variation of "write what you know" he encourages writers to write what they feel to be true. Using what you know and what is unique will bring an honesty to the character and dialogue. 

The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.
Neil Gaiman


One of the tasks of writing is to be honest in your creation, bring that person to life, to breathe in the air, to exist not as a plot device or pushed-and-pulled tool in service to a scene, but as a person who is as rational and irrational as we all are, but from this person’s own unique perspective.
Douglas Clegg

And this all has led to my realization. I am not Stephen King, nor am I  Neil Gaiman, or Douglas Clegg. I am who I am, and it's time I was honest with myself, and my writing.

Winter of Zombie blog tour: Armand Rosamilia

 Your name:  
Armand Rosamilia

Why zombies?
Why the hell not? Zombies are cool. They represent the idealogical and emotional psyche of... nah, zombies are just really cool...

What is your latest zombie release?
Dying Days: Origins 2

Quick description of it:

Dying Days: Origins 2

The prequel tale to David Monsour, featured in Dying Days 2 zombie novella as well as short stories set in the Dying Days world.

Includes two bonus short stories as well! Plus author's notes


Something unique about it:

The character itself is based on an actual person, a huge fan of the series who is a prepper and is ready for the zombie apocalypse when it comes.

Links for people to buy it.




Promo links.

http://armandrosamilia.com

http://dyingdayszombie.com

Your short Bio.

Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he's not sleeping.

He's written over 100 stories that are currently available, including a few different series:

"Dying Days" extreme zombie series

"Keyport Cthulhu" horror series

"Flagler Beach Fiction Series" contemporary fiction

"Metal Queens" non-fiction music series

he also loves to talk in third person... because he's really that cool.

He's a proud Active member of HWA as well.

You can find him at http://armandrosamilia.com for not only his latest releases but interviews and guest posts with other authors he likes!

e-mail him to talk about zombies, baseball and Metal:

armandrosamilia@gmail.com