Peter C. Vey, The New Yorker
Peter C. Vey, The New Yorker


You know the feeling.  You’re writing away.  You’re well into telling your story.  You’re on track, or at least on the right rails.  You’ve written 100 pages, or 500, or your mass-tangle of notes are finally a solid outline …. or, if you’re like me this week, you’ve got 300-ish pages of purposeful unfolding and you feel like you’re kinda sorta for the most part rolling.

And then one day, with no warning, you feel the flood of panic wash through your chest and it screams, ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod I have no idea what the hell I’m doing.

Mine came yesterday afternoon.  I was working over a few overstuffed but innocuous paragraphs when it hit, when for absolutely no logical reason on this earth I stared at those paragraphs knowing the entire manuscript, the whole thing, was a disaster.

I shut down the computer.  I did some grocery shopping.  I made supper for the neighbors.  I went to bed early and woke up in the middle of the night to keep reading Jesmyn Ward’s MEN WE REAPED until I fell, naturally and exhaustedly, back to sleep.  And this morning I turned the computer back on picked the words up where I left them.  The flood had passed.  Crisis, mysteriously but somehow, averted.

What’s your cure when the panic sets in?