Sunday, June 24, 2012

Post-partum Anxiety

Now comes the hard part.  The Heart’s History is officially out there—no more edits, no more opportunities to stuff it back into a drawer while I rethink the whole thing.  All I can do now is sit back and hope people like it.

I don’t remember if I felt this way the first time, when Chemistry came out.  Maybe publishing a book is like childbirth: if you could remember the pain, you'd never do it again.  And so I just keep my fingers crossed as my baby takes its first steps without me, praying my parenting was sufficient to prepare it for the world.

Rumor has it that even Madonna has stage fright.  So I’m in good company when my stomach churns at the thought of publicity, or opening a Website where a review of the book might be lurking.  It’s ironic, really:  the very word publish means “to make public.”  If I’m so worried about what people are going to think, then what am I doing in this situation in the first place?  It’s not as if somebody held me at gunpoint and forced me to publish my work.

Madonna, of course, makes millions from her work:  with that kind of motivation, stage fright should be an easy opponent.  Most writers, however, don’t really do it for the money.  Okay, maybe we do it for the dream of money, but all the people I know who’ve struck it rich from their writing could fit comfortably into my coat closet. 

In the end, the cliché is true:  writing, like every art, is ultimately about self-expression.  Sure, I could keep everything in that overstuffed drawer, but once in a while, it’s nice to let some of it out.  And sometimes there are unexpected benefits:  The most gratifying thing about publishing Chemistry was hearing from readers who had loved ones suffering from mental illness; reading the book allowed them to open up about their own experiences. 

And so the latest one has left the nest.  I’ll just sit here and resist the urge to rush over whenever he stumbles and hope he doesn’t spit up on anyone.

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