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theferrett ([personal profile] theferrett) wrote2010-12-02 08:45 am

Naming the Syndrome

Though I've never seen it, I am assured by other writers that every serious writer eventually suffers from a malady I shall call Alexander Dane Syndrome. I know that, certainly, I am afflicted.

The syndrome usually arrives in the wake of a bunch of rejection emails, or upon seeing your writing companions (who you love and admire and fear) get a success that you know deep in your heart that you will never attain. You wonder why you're writing. You wonder whether you're good enough. You wonder whether you shouldn't give it all up and take up an easier career, such as juggling flaming lions or construction work on one of those high towers in Abu Dhabi.

At this point a loving wife, or friend, or perhaps some unwilling acquaintaince at the bus stop must take you aside and recite the magical lines to you: "Youaremoretalentedthanyouknowyoudogoodworkyou'rejustnotappreciatedwithhardworkyou'llmakeitt." It barely matters what tone they speak it to you - they can utter it with all the emphasis of a porn star begging for the cock, or the guy at the drive-thru asking if you want fries with that, what matters is that they say the words. And then, because you could no sooner lay aside this onerous job of "writing" than you could leave your left kidney behind, you return to your tear-stained keyboard.

You may do this three or four times a week, during awards season. You may run out of loving wives, friends, and bus stop acquaintances, and be reduced to giving bums a quarter so they will whisper it with Mad Dog 20/20-soaked breath in your ear. No matter. You must have it.

I dub this "Alexander Dane Syndrome," for it always reminds me of Galaxy Quest, when Alexander Dane (as played by Alan Rickman) is freaking out in his dressing room, right on schedule:

ALEXANDER: Dear God. How did I come to this?

TOMMY: Not again...

ALEXANDER: I played Richard III...

FRED: "Five curtain calls..."

ALEXANDER: ...Five curtain calls! I was an ACTOR once, damn it. Now look at me... LOOK AT ME.

TOMMY: Settle down, Alex...

(Later)

JASON: Am I too late for Alexander's panic attack?

That's me. At least once a month. My panic attacks as regular and formalized as a military parade. And Gini whispers the magic words in my ear, and wraps me in snuggles, and probably at this point views calming my writer-hystrionics as a household chore, like cleaning the toilet, only less appetizing. No matter. She married me for my words. Now she shall chant reassurances at me until I'm a bestselling writer. And when I've sold millions of copies, I'm sure I won't be at all threatened by Stephen King.