Cara Cannella: Does writing so honestly about your anxiety make you more or less anxious? Is it cathartic and/or scary as hell to put yourself out there as you do?Visit Daniel Smith's website and Facebook page.
Dan Smith: Strangely, it doesn’t really make me anxious to talk about my anxiety. I don’t know why this is, exactly. I think it’s because although I strive for emotional and psychological truth in the book, the person who is telling the story isn’t, in the end, strictly me -- or rather he’s not completely me. He’s a narrator, a persona. He has my experiences and feelings and thoughts and concerns, but not all of them. (That’d take a work of endless volumes.) So I’m able to distance myself from whatever fears might come along with wide exposure. I find I’m far more anxious about literary than biographical exposure. I can tolerate people criticizing my character. But my sentences: now, that’s scary.
CC: What was the trajectory of your anxiety and its impact on your writing from the publication of your last book to the release of this one?
DS: In a word, steady. "Muses, Madmen, and Prophets" was published in 2007, and since then I’ve had to deal with a lot of stress: financial woes, professional instability, a colicky child. But by the time all this happened I’d learned how to stop my anxiety from boiling over into complete, paralyzing panic. To put it another way, I’ve been extensively therapized; I know some tricks. Also, I’m a husband and a father. I can’t afford to be paralyzed anymore. This isn’t to say I don’t still experience anxiety on a daily basis. I do. Some days really and sincerely suck. But...[read on]