Tackling the black dog on my back.


That dog. That damn dog. You know the one.

It sits crouched up high on your spine, making everything seem impossible – making you feel impossible – that meaty breath, those long teeth. But that dog, you know that dog and it licks your hand and says it’s okay, we’re friends, I’m just here to help you understand your limitations, to stop you falling over the edge. Trust me.

I’m your friend, it says and it wags its tail to prove it.

That dog is not my friend.

I have these things the dog tells me until they are all I can believe; they are like an unhappy mantra of self-loathing and self-destruction: This book is shit. Your agent is going to hate it. You’re wasting your time. Can’t you stop writing this shit you like and find something publishable? Hot guys, come on, write about those. Make your characters cooler, no one wants to read about a deeply-repressed magician with no magic and a ruined knee. Give up, throw this away. This has been done before and you will bring nothing new to the table. Who do you think you are?

That dog is relentless. It. Never. Fucking. Shuts. Up.


I can try and drown that black dog out with other voices, repeat after me until I can sit in front of that empty document and just make words. They can be nonsense words, they can be boring and dull and uninspired and that’s okay because the longer I keep slamming those dull and boring and uninspired words down, the softer that howling gets.

When I stop, it’s back, but at least I know there is that way to quiet it for just a little while. And I will keep doing what I can to muffle it, and to write, even when it’s easier to just let the dog tell me what’s right for me, what a failure I am.

Because, that dog?

That dog is not my friend.

It does not protect me from myself.

It keeps me in a little pen, and pretends to have saved me.

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