Do you suffer from Synopsisitis, New Novel Itch, Mad Muse Attack, Reality Blindness or Reichenball Falls Syndrome?
If people think your behaviour is weird, this book will convince them that you’re perfectly normal for a writer. You are simply afflicted with a Creatively Transmitted Disease.
Compare your symptoms, discover the cure (if there is one) and diagnose your writer friends.
Compiled by veteran author Rayne Hall, this book is a short, fun-to-read guide and suitable as a gift for yourself or the writer in your life.
Here are some sample entries:
• Creatively Transmitted Disease (CTD)
Flawed thoughts and irresistible inspirations caught from contact with other writers.
• Errata Panic Disorder (EPD)
A common affliction among non-fiction book authors, this involves fear or conviction that the book they are working on or have just completed contains an error (e.g. that in Chapter 7 they wrote that Tycho Brahe was born in 1456, instead of 1546.) The onset of this disorder is sudden, and involves feeling faint, weak or dizzy, sweating, a sense of terror or impending doom. Symptoms are most severe if the manuscript has just been submitted for publication or the book has been published.
Treatment requires instant checking of the manuscript. If the fear proves unfounded, symptoms will disappear, though nausea may linger for several hours. If the error actually exists, patients are prone to irrational behaviour. For this reason, the manuscript-checking treatment should only be attempted in the presence of another person who can exert a calming influence.
• Fiction Bleed
In the writer’s mind, fiction bleeds into the writer’s reality. The writer assumes that the conditions of life in her work-in-progress (WiP) do or will manifest in real life.
For example, the writer who lives in the tropics takes to wearing padded jackets and fur-lined boots, because the setting of the WiP is cold. The writer may stockpile foodstuffs because of the famine anticipated in her novel. She may suffer pangs of jealousy, convinced that her husband is cheating on her with his glamorous secretary, even though he doesn’t have a secretary.
The first symptom is calling the spouse by the WiP love interest’s name. At advanced stage, the writer may go to saddle his horse (though he doesn’t have one), call orders to his butler (he doesn’t have one), and arrange a marriage for his daughter (he doesn’t have one). If told, he is disbelieving for a long time “Of course I have a daughter. She is eighteen, golden-haired and strong-willed, and I’ve betrothed her to the Duke of Draddle’. When he wakes, he is like someone being woken from a dream, and then it may give way to acute embarrassment.
Symptoms typically ease once the book is completed, but may recur in different form when the writer starts plotting the next book, and may become a chronic affliction.
Fiction bleed is curable by early forceful intervention when the patient is well aware that fiction and reality are different matters.
Also see Reality Blindness, Reality Irrelevance.
A compulsion to submit or upload a new file every time the writer discovers an omitted comma. It often occurs immediately after submission of a manuscript or after hitting the ‘publish’ button. Symptoms include racing thoughts, frantic typing, feelings of shame and irritability, alternating with brief phases of relief and euphoria. Afflicted indie authors constantly re-upload and republish their already-published books. Authors on the corporate (traditional) publishing path fire off emails, “Urgent: Ignore the manuscript I sent earlier. Use this one.” – “Sorry again. Don’t use that one. I’m attaching the final version.” – “This one is the really final final, I promise.”
The tendency of writers to goof off when they are supposed to write, characterised by the thought, “I’ll just quickly…” (“I’ll just quickly check my email/see how my book sales are today/make a cup of coffee/look on Amazon if someone has published a similar book already/find the right music to play while I’m writing/ask other writers how to best handle this scene/research eye-witness accounts of earthquakes.”) Despite intentions, the writer doesn’t return to writing for the rest of the scheduled writing session. Suggested remedies: depriving the writer of their internet connection, taking away their books, locking the writer up in a cell without distractions.
This disorder is a Creatively Transmitted Disease. Writers of all genres can become infected, although it most commonly affects thriller authors and journalists.
A previously peaceful person exhibits constant morbid curiosity about all kinds of macabre things, wanting to understand every detail. Whenever something gruesome is mentioned in conversation, the writer will demand more detail, usually with the explanation ‘I may need that for a book one day’.
The first noticeable symptom is a series of relatively mild enquiries about people’s injuries. From there it rapidly escalates. At office Christmas parties and formal functions, the writer will enquire about the nutritional values of human blood, symptoms of cyanide poisoning, the smells of a nine-day old cadaver.
It can also lead the writer to dangerous activities in the name of research, such as signing up for training with an assassin’s guild, or infiltrating a drug smuggling ring.
This disorder causes embarrassment to friends and spouses.
Unfortunately, no cure is possible, although the symptoms can be controlled.
Psychologists used to advocate training – sending the afflicted writer on specialist courses such as Human Pathology 101 and Introduction to 19th Century Surgery, in the expectation that the structure approach would still the morbid curiosity. However, study appears to whet, rather than still, the lust for more gore.
A more successful approach is to steer afflicted persons to the company of other writers regularly. The ability to discuss the gory aspects of their craft with their peers sometimes enables them to behave normally elsewhere.
Another simple method is to simply change the subject, preferably to something else the writer is interested in. However, this must be done immediately, as soon as the writer gets a gleam in the eyes and opens the mouth to speak. Great watchfulness is therefore required at all times.
The urge to sharpen a whole box of pencils before sitting down to write. Some writers experience this even if they write on a computer. Closely related to Procrastinitis. Affected writers display inappropriate irritability if someone points out their behaviour or attempts to prevent it. In its mild form, Graphitomania serves as a pre-writing ritual to condition the mind, occurs only at the start of a new project, and is self-limiting. In more severe cases, it can inhibit the writers ability to produce any writing, in which case drastic intervention (e.g. locking the writer in a room with a computer and no pencils) may be necessary.
• Hardware Hatred
Intense hatred of malfunctioning hardware. In the 20th century, the most common trigger was a stuck typewriter key. Nowadays, the term encompasses not only computer crashes but triggers other than hardware – blue screens, error messages, erratic internet connections, failing apps.
Symptoms include pinched lips, profuse sweating, headache, tightening eyes, painful neck and high blood pressure. The severity increases the longer the trigger cause persists, and the closer the publisher’s deadline approaches.
1 Book Review
#1 Book Review Search