PSM and Whine Flu

I’m suffering. From acute PSM. No, that’s not a typo. I do mean PSM not PMS, though PSM does share similar symptoms to those of that other well known nasty acronym. For example, at the moment, my mood swings vary from elation to manic panic. Elation, when I manage to convince myself I’ve written the best novel possible and then immediate manic panic when the word ‘deluded’ comes to mind and I think of what must come next. I’m mildly irritable and want chocolate. I have stomach cramps. My long suffering husband can see my red aura of oversensitivity and knows not to offer an opinion, unless I ask for one.

For those of you who are afflicted by this debilitating condition, don’t despair – it’s actually quite common amongst and almost exclusive to the male and female writing fraternity.

The good news? Pre Submission Mania, along with another condition common in writers, Whine Flu, do have temporary remedial alternatives to finding an agent and a publishing deal. Although to be fair, it is only either or both of these options that have been proven to provide an actual cure... There are encouraging alternatives available which provide immense symptom relief during the manic fear phase of PSM. The trick? To encourage the writer to think of anything else other than actually submitting their manuscript. I personally have self medicated during the height of acute symptoms by:

  1. Taking a long evening walk, followed by Sky plus recordings of Judge Judy accompanied by alcohol.

  2. Facebook stalking, not scary stalking, just watching what others are up to.

  3. Positive mantras e.g. ‘Marion Keyes, Who IS she? Marion Keyes, Who Is she? repeated in the mirror.

  4. Chocolate.

  5. Lines. You know the punishing school type ones? My favourite is, “I must not whinge, ‘But I want to be PUBLISHED’ to my husband anymore.” This particular one does only provide relief to Whine Flu symptoms and I’ve found it’s a lot quicker to type it out, rather than write it longhand?

  6. Ebay (It’s amazing what people sell) Write words and other writerly sites.

  7. Buying the envelopes and folders for the submissions, then staring at them with my hands over my ears singing, ‘La, La, La, La…..La, La, La, La’

  8. Googling Johnny Depp to see if he’s still married to that French woman.

  9. Burying my copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook in the garden whilst eating maltesers.

  10. Washing, ironing, cleaning, recycling. You get the gist.
Of course when the fear filled mania phase passes and the faith returns, as it always does, it means you have to stay away from mirrors. It means you have to dig up your copy of the yearbook, address the envelopes accordingly and enclose your SAE, crossing out the manic reference to Marion Keyes The Second or similar after your name. And that's when Whine Flu threatens. Close your eyes. Ignore the 'But.....' and 'What if' symptomatic comments in your head and give it a little kiss, put it in the post box and send it on its way. You'll be fine. Until next time.


Caroline Green said...

Pure genius! Brilliant, brilliant post!

Susannah Rickards said...

Hi Fionnuala

If your novel is half as witty as your posts surely they'll be biting your hand off for it.

Who IS Marion Keyes, anyway?

S x

Sheila Norton said...

Hope you're soon recovering from the PSM Fionnuala! Only one remedy, though - submit! Just do it! (I know - even the word submit sounds like you're going to die, doesn't it!). And then, of course, after that we all suffer from another PSM ... post submission mania ... which could be even harder ...

Administrator said...

We ought to form a support group:)

Great post!

Fionnuala said...

Thanks guys! And Olivia...Sssssh. The 'post' submission mania was to be a follow up!

Julie P said...

Excellent post as always! I like Whine Flu - you can whine and moan as much as you like but you don't have the sore throat, runny nose, or hacking cough!

Yes, husbands are there to be whined at! That's their job. They don't realise how big a part they play in the creative process do they?

Julie xx

Gillian McDade said...

Love this post! Whine Flu is great! I'd swap it with swine flu any day!

sarah fox said...


Susie Nott-Bower said...

Love it!
Who IS she? WHO IS SHE?!!?