One thing they don’t tell you is that publishing a book makes you a little bit insane. I was completely unprepared for this when I published my first book in 2007. I cried several times before I held the book in my hand, and probably cried once or twice after I had the finished product.
I’ve talked to many other writers about this since, and most people say that they do feel slightly ill or break down at least once during the process. I’ve talked to one writer who said that she almost puked when she sent in her finished manuscript, and another who said her eye twitched uncontrollably for about a month before a very personal book came out.
Even though I was prepared for this, I still felt incredibly anxious for the launch of “13”. I worried about it a lot. I worried about how my parents would react to the book. I worried that people would think I was still hung up on a past lover who hurt me more than anyone else ever has. The book was really personal, and I did have a few crying jags leading up to publication. A month before I got the book, I was very anxious. I was pretty much bouncing off the walls. I had a lot of energy and was racing around. I floated down the Pembina River in a tube, danced a lot, talked way too fast to anyone who would talk to me, and went for body treatments like massage and reiki. Sleep became a forgotten friend. When I get stressed, I also tend to buy books. Some people “stress eat”, I “stress book buy”. So I have more books now, too.
Once I got the book, things were better. But I did cry once during the tour, just because things were so intense. I’d done more press than I had ever done in my life and I’d spent a long time talking about my childhood depression, sharing and emoting. I cried in a restaurant in Innisfail, and the waitress was extremely kind and brought me extra napkins and told me that my job was to eat, and her job was to serve me. It was so incredibly sweet and gentle. I hope I never forget it.
Both times I have published a book, I have done a few things that were completely irrational. I am embarrassed by these moments of “crazy”. I have felt wired and slightly buzzed during the process. This is something that I want to learn to keep in check. I’m hoping that my next couple books will not be as personal, as I want to take a break from writing about my own life. Perhaps this will help make the process easier for me. Perhaps the process gets easier over time.
The writer Stacey May Fowles actually wrote about the anxiety that she experienced while publishing her first novel. My anxiety about publishing a book has never been this bad, but a lot of writers I know love this essay and many can relate to it.
One thought on “Publishing a book makes you kind of crazy”
I’m no where near publishing, but I get a little weird whenever I’m in the middle of a major rewrite. I already feel a little anxious about publishing, so I can only imagine how you must have felt to lay it all out there.
I’m not writing directly about my own life, but the thought of having people assume that everything in my book is about me makes me feel a little sick. Or, worse, to have no one care at all.
Thanks for the great post!