The last few days were a multi-car pileup of work, family things, a few long-overdue household details, and so on. Not much time to get to the keys; it was only the other night I got any actual work done on Fall Of The Hammer. Of everything I've worked on until now, this story has easily had the most drawn-out and fragmented genesis; I suspect I'll be polishing it non-stop until its final release.
Some of that has me worried if, until now, I've been writing badly and just this project, because of its peculiarity and intractability, forced me to level up to a point where only now am I writing anything halfway okay.
Creative paranoia: I've got it, you've got it (at least, I assume you're reading this because you do), everyone creative has had it. It's that feeling of wondering whether or not everything you've done up until this most recent revelation about the way you see your work has, in fact, been worthless. And worse, worthless in a way only other people can see.
When I first discovered Philip K. Dick, I spent a good few years digging up and reading literally everything the man wrote. There was a lot of it, and it spanned many decades of work. Much of it was out of print, but I had ready access to a city that had some of the best-stocked used bookstores in that whole part of the country. Unkind things about his earlier works seemed justified, but also unfair: they were early in his career, and they also reflected different notions than his later ones did (which traded up more casual thought for the gravity-well of obsessions from which nothing could escape).
I'm kinder to him than I might be to myself, if only because I am still here and he is not, and because I have at least some say over where my work goes. It's my job to be a little sterner with myself than others might be. If paranoia rears its head, that's a sign I've gone too far and need to be kinder. You have to find out what your own warning signs are, and the only way to find out is to be afflicted with them. If only a little bit.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind