"Wise One? Who is that man, the one bleeding from the mouth, the one everybody is looking at?"
"Don't worry, child; his blood will dry soon. That is a singer."
"But Wise One, who is that other man, the one bleeding from the hands, who leaves his blood and walks away, and no-one sees him bleed?"
"Ah, child, that blood will never dry, for that man is a writer."
Writing well is fucking terrifying.
That part was for those of you who don't really write; that was the emphatics, so you get it. Writers reading that line usually chuckle. Of course writing is holy terror; that's what it's all about, for the writer. Just like being a detective is really about being smart, and being a nurse is really about being compassionate, even though that's not necessarily what we see from the outside. Well, what people don't see from the outside of books and stories of all kinds is the FEAR.
Every author I've ever spoken to has agreed with me on one thing, and that is how a writer knows he or she is writing something good, right now, this second. And the answer is: He or she is shaking, sweating, breathing hard...terrified. Whatever it is that scares you about life, writing a story--ANY story, as long as it's real--will throw you face to face with it. That's just what it's all about.
Think about THIS double-edged blade for a moment: These things come straight out of the deepest part of your mind, the unconscious, the dark--the part that knows how the stories should go. I'm sure you can imagine that we writers are not anxious to find some of these things out about ourselves. Believe me, you wouldn't be either. You're sitting there, looking at the page, reading a graphic something that just shocks the shit out of you...and now you have to wonder, "Where did that come from?" "What does that mean, that I can come up with that?" It might sound silly, but take an easy example: Say you're Clive Barker for a day. How do you handle what comes from your mind? Are you really like that, deep down? And don't you think you, as Clive Barker, would be pretty fucking scared yourself, as you wrote those things down? Damn straight you would.
Then you come to the fun part, the reason that half the writers in the world will never publish a thing: Wait. Let me explain this from the outside first, because it makes the inside view less foggy. What would you think if you met Clive Barker right now? Somewhere in you, you would wonder about his mind, about how somebody can write that stuff. You'll wonder this whether you like his writing or not. The only way you won't try to judge that man is if you have no idea what he writes about--pretty slim chance, with Clive Barker. Now, imagine again that you are Clive Barker. Your mother has read your books. Your grandparents, your favorite teacher, your old friends and most of your enemies--not to mention a bunch of strangers in the publishing business--they now have something spat right from your soul. In their hands. And while you're eating, or sleeping, or writing something else, they're dissecting you--based on that book. Gee, what if it sucks?