Ezra Pound struck out lines in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land manuscript that referred to the writing of bad poetry. His mentee Ernest Hemingway deleted a description of poor novel writing from The Sun Also Rises. What intrigues me is the possibility that these passages were cut as anxious self-reflections. I argue that self-critical voices accompany literary composition, sometimes make their way into drafts, and in happier cases are dropped prior to publication. Naomi Cumming's work in the philosophy of performative consciousness is central to this demonstration, which suggests that anxiety and risk are pivotal to the production of literature.