After a spectacular crisis of confidence last Thursday and Friday which I'm now calling Post Manuscript Posting Stress Syndrome (PMPSS), I have recovered my equilibrium. But before outlining the treatment of this acute debilitating illness, let's me first identify its symptoms and causes. And please note: the condition will henceforth be known as Elizabeth Jane Corbett PMPSS syndrome. Which in the event of my abject failure as a novelist will secure my name for posterity.
- Paranoid checking of email and phone (as if anyone could have read the novel in six hours)
- Deep aching cavity in your chest that needs lashings of sticky sweet reassurance
- Waking with ideas for revisions in the early hours of the morning
- A combustion of shame every time you think of someone reading your manuscript
- Self doubt to the point of wanting to recall all known copies of said work and shred them
- Sitting in the corner hugging your teddy bear and moaning
- General inability to face normal domestic and administrative tasks
- Unshakeable conviction that real life is what happens on a page
- Tendency to get lost or caught up in writing tasks for hours on end (multiple burnt saucepans as evidence)
- Mis-management of mildly (cough) obsessive tendencies
- Dis-inclination to act on husband's well intended suggestions that you take a break (yes, Andrew, you were right again)
Treatments for this acute, self-inflicted psychosomatic condition vary. But during her research, Elizabeth Jane Corbett, has identified some common therapies.
- Watch endless YouTube clips. Welsh comedians are particularly effective
- Indulge in other obsessive interests. Translating arm-long lists of little used Welsh words has proven therapeutic. But, a word of warning, this list should never be mistaken for classroom preparation. Or inflicted on a poor unsuspecting beginners Welsh class. No matter how interesting it may seem to the PMPSS sufferer
- Take comfort in your day job (unless, of course, you are a librarian in which case exposure to other popular works may exacerbate symptoms)
- Read a gentle comforting novel (in a genre different to the one under consideration). Alexander McCall Smith's titles are routinely prescribed as they have the added benefit of reminding the PMPSS sufferer that life is essentially about being a decent human being not a multi-published, award-winning, best-selling author (sob)
- Avoid reading the blogs of other successful writers until the worst of the symptoms have passed
- Or sending hate mail to any of the above authors
- Schedule a Dukan celebration meal with sympathetic family members
- Try not to talk about your manuscript at said celebration meal (this is an extreme therapy and beyond the fortitude of most sufferers)
- Do not open your manuscript to check anything even when a reader tells you they are up to page a hundred and twenty
- Let your dog sit on your lap and stare up at you with adoration
- Then, come Monday morning write something else – a review, some interview questions, a short story, a blog, anything to take you back to the real word of the page.
- In no circumstances, should the suffer make a delusional attempt to clear their in-tray or get on top of their administration. This will only lead to a reoccurrence of symptoms.
Finally, if you are currently suffering from PMPSS and are having trouble moving from the Teddy bear rocking stage to the YouTube comedy stage here is a clip to get you started.