Tag Archives: Misery

The Very Wide Spectrum of Fandom: Fear and Misery in the Writer’s World

I caught this video on Kait Nolan’s blog the other day and it really got me thinking.  Kait commented she thought there was a lot of truth to the video in how any artistic person combats stress with pleasing others.  Check it out:

I know I totally identified with how Charlie feels.  There are so many writers out there, and we have one of THE BEST communities by far, but I do think there’s a competitiveness or a drive to be well liked.  Whether in personality or writing style, we all want to be liked.  And like Charlie shared, when someone doesn’t like our writing, by extension we perceive that they don’t like us.

Now, don’t ask me why, but my brain just has an uncanny ability to jump around from movie to movie making references and quotes wherever I go.  And when I watch a video about being scared by your fans, I don’t know about you, but my mind immediately went here…

Remember this film?  Stephen King’s Misery was released in its film version in 1990 and won Kathy Bates an Oscar for Actress in a Lead Role.  It was the first Stephen King book I ever read and I love the film version too!  The premise for this book/film is writer Paul Sheldon, played by James Caan, is best known for his Misery book series.  And Annie Wilkes, played by Kathy Bates, is his biggest fan.  In a chance accident, Paul and Annie’s worlds collide.

Annie takes Paul into her home and cares for him while he’s recovering from a car accident.  And during that time, she reads Paul’s latest Misery book, in which he kills off his main character – meaning the series is over.

Suddenly everything changes for Paul.  Annie’s kind nursing ways turn into vindictive and vengeful abuse as she forces Paul to write another Misery book that will bring the main character back to life.

Of course, these are two very different extremes of fandom.  On one side, we have the author’s perceived fear of the reader – “Will they like me?  Will they think I’m cool?  Will they want to read more of my work?”  And on the flip side, we have actual FEAR of the reader  – My life is in danger if I don’t write this the way the reader wants it!  

I just kept thinking about these two extremes.  We are fortunate to know that the instance in Misery is really rare.  I hope so anyway!  But what about the other side?  To me, that internal fear is scarier, because I repeatedly deal with it.  I’m an “eternal editor.”  I re-started my last book project six times!  Sometimes for good reasons, and sometimes not.  I feared I would never finish my book, but I didn’t realize it was my fear keeping me from doing so!

With the next project, I’ve gotten much farther because I took Candace Havens‘ advice and now I don’t edit my first draft.  And I don’t write linearly anymore either.  I jump around.  Tactically, these writing styles help me.  But the fear?  That’s mind over matter.  At least my internal editor isn’t a sledgehammer wielding Annie Wilkes!

What are your thoughts?  Do you think we as writers/artists/performers stifle ourselves when we’re afraid what the audience will think?  What’s the best advice you have heard to combat fear?

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