Okay, I don’t feel quite the level of angst that the subject of Edvard Munch’s painting seems to, but I still feel some, especially when it comes to my writing.
Of course, every writer experiences angst of some sort when it comes to their craft. Is my writing good enough? Will the editors like this one? Even best-selling authors with a vastly successful track record must feel some of this when they’re working on a new project. Maybe this one isn’t as good as the ones before? Will this one find a home? Will this one even sell?
My own angst generally comes down to this question: what in the world have I written? And where can I possibly send it? It actually comes down to a question of genre… and the fact that I have no idea what genre many of stories fit into. For example, my story “Teh K1ng in Y3ll0w” is nominally a Lovecraftian pastiche, but it’s also a caper story and a comedic piece. Where would it go? It wouldn’t go to any of the major horror markets (unless they have a remarkably flexible editor), but it wouldn’t go to any humor markets either. So… What do I do with it?
Some of my mixed-genre stories have found homes (see my Bibliography page), but most of them sit in my files, waiting for that special market, the place that will take the sort of story I tend to write. Major markets, especially SFWA and HWA qualifying markets, tend to be genre-specific: Analog, for example, is geared towards hard science fiction. Asimov’s is a more flexible, but still expects science fiction primarily. Fantasy and Science Fiction is, well, geared toward fantasy and science fiction. It might be a good home for “The X of Doom” when I finish that one, but, again, “Teh K1ng in Y3ll0w” probably won’t work there.
When it comes to novels, I think I’m in better shape. Novelists like Tom Holt, Christopher Moore, Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman have all written the kind of humor-focused genre-crossing novels that I write, so if I can honestly compare my writing to theirs, I’ll be in good shape. It’s just my short stories that are homeless.