My name is Chico and I’m a writeaholic

So I’m going to talk about writers’ block, a terrible condition. It seems that I have to write. Painting calms me and invigorates me (as do yoga and running), but only writing gives me a buzz. Typing “The End” on a novel is as intense as finishing an actual marathon!
Yet not long after “Printer’s Devil” was published I fell victim to this cruel affliction. There were a few reasons. I was working at an awful, awful place: an ad agency straight out of “Mad Men” for its misogyny (something which was completely absent when I first went into advertising about 20 years earlier). It gave me clinical depression and allergic asthma as well. Then the book I was working on and sending piecemeal to my editor at Baen, a reworking of World War Two on a world with two intelligent, but very different, human races, was cut short by her abruptly asking me “Why are you writing this?” To please myself, primarily, I should’ve replied, but didn’t. And finally— name and shame!— a guy named John Jerrold asked me for a meet. He’d read “Printer’s Devil” and was interested, he said, in working with me. I honestly can’t remember whether, back then, he was an agent or a publisher. We had, I thought, an interesting and even exciting meeting, talking about future writing plans.
He never contacted me again, and the only reply I elicited from some minion of his was that “John is away but is looking forward to working with you on this project”.
For the next four years I struggled to write any fiction. The words that had flowed so freely came only with great effort and were plagued by self-doubt. I would write a few sentences, then bin them.
And then, one day in 2000, while I was painfully limping through the first story for ages that I’d really thought was going somewhere, Captain da Silva came to me… and that great big dam burst asunder.


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