The “And-Then” Syndrome

How is it that a reasonably intelligent person can, say, triple check an email for typos, hit send, and then realize a huge mistake? Or that person might spend time composing a beautiful, thoughtful letter, only to drop in the mail slot and then realize some terrible was referred to? Or maybe that person strutted across a crowded room sure that all that time in the bathroom primping was paying off, and then discovers her skirt is stuck in her pantyhose?

That instant of realization is forever, and it plummets to depths you didn’t know your stomach had.

So, I sent my novel off to be read in a brace-myself-for-tearing-apart kind of way, and one kind friend makes one nice comment about the few pages she has read, and then it hits me. An entire thread of my plot is missing. I mean, the plot I wrote is there on the page, but something I introduced in the beginning, something so obvious, something so, well, OBVIOUS, that I may have to chain myself on the other side of the room to keep from trying to dig into cyberspace and tunnel back through time and take the novel back.


But even as I moan and shake my head and self-obsess, I know every writer needs to let the work go. It’s just that it is hard to keep foolishness in perspective. If it is someone else’s panic attack, they’re overreacting. If it’s my panic attack, it’s the whole–and no one understands.

3 thoughts on “The “And-Then” Syndrome

  1. You make some excellent points here–realization is often painful in some way, and liberating on the other side.

    And obvious is on my verboten list.

    “If you are an abuser of ‘obvious’, then I urge you to drop this
    dangerous word from your vocabulary. The true artist once informed knows that no thing is obvious—if it were, wouldn’t you have already been acclaimed for your genius?”

    –from my latest book, An Artist Empowered

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