Buzz Bissinger — who has a Pulitzer Prize and a smash book, Friday Night Lights, to his credit — was in a low mood when he sat down to work Monday morning. At 9:29, he tweeted:
My last book with LeBron was shit. I know that. All writers only have a finite amount in the tank. Every day — the fear you have run dry.
This was followed by a series of tweets, each separated by two or three minutes.
I wrote Friday Night Lights when I was 33. I am now 55. Haunts me every day. Best thing that ever happened. Worse thing that ever happened. [9:31]
When people call me over-the-hill I react with profane defensiveness. But maybe it is true. It crawls into my head every minute, every day. [9:33]
I have a beautiful book on my hands about my son. I can barely write a sentence w/o crippling self-doubt. i get encouragement — turn it off. [9:35]
I am angry. I do hate bullshit. But maybe I am the biggest bullshitter of all, passing judgment on those who still do. Am I caricature? [9:38]
It isn’t self-pity writers feel. It is fear that what you did was accidental, luck, no more words left. Only to escape it seems was Updike. [9:43]
At 9:51, pulling out of it, he tweeted,
Writing is a matter of confidence, like any creative act. You gain it, you lose it, you gain it, you lose it. No better high. No worse low.
And five minutes later, after he’d apparently received some encouragement from other Twitterers, he concluded,
Enough. Your support means a tremendous amount to me. And as some have said, pull up your socks and get back to work.
I haven’t accomplished anything like what Bissinger has, but I have felt all these doubts, every single one. Most writers do. Probably most creative artists of all kinds do. In a weird way, it is reassuring to hear someone so accomplished cop to it.
A strange benefit of the real-time web: the ease of broadcasting confessions like these in the false intimacy of a lonely office allows writers to peek over each other’s shoulders.