Monday, April 28, 2014

Putting Your Insides on the Outside (It's even worse than it sounds)

Writing a book was the easy part. The hard part was letting people read it.

 And not because I included lots of private details about my college life, (vagina jokes and confessions of deep-rooted insecurities is just me being me), but because my ability would be judged and my dreams destroyed (side note: I might be overly dramatic).

That people know the awkward and borderline, humiliating way I lost my virginity embarrasses me not, but the book as a whole being judged a stink trap is almost more than I can take. 

For years this book sat mostly finished in a pile of paper that I would randomly relocate from office to car floorboard, to house, and finally back to office, for no reason other than it kept the dream alive.

On occasion, I would get questions from my husband or a good friend asking, "What's with that book you are always working on?" I would inform them,  "It's done."  Only to be shot in the face with the inevitable follow-up question: "And?" 

My emotional tap dance would start immediately and I would cycle through the five stages of book anguish:

First, Anger.  "And what?!  I wrote a book, what have you done today?  I mean, really!"

Second, Denial (of reality).  "I 'm working towards getting something done with it."  "I'm researching agents."  "It's a timing issue."

Third, Rationalization. "I really need someone who can help me edit."  "I'm just waiting on feedback from so and so." "I can't get an agent without a publisher, and I can't get an agent without being published!  It's a catch twenty-two, girlfriend!"

Fourth, Shame.  "I'm kind of scared cause it will probably fail and I can't handle failure in this area of my life."

And finally fifth, Acceptance.  "You're right.  I really gotta do something with the book."

I'm the worst kind of dreamer: I prefer the hope of a dream to any real possibility of success.  My rationale is, if you try and fail then the dream is dead.  Better to keep hope alive.  Now, I do and say a lot of things that call into question my mental health, but nothing says clinically insane like writing a book, longing to have people read it, and yet leaving it in a pile on your bedroom floor.  Because not releasing it into the wild wasn't really sustaining my hope, it was prolonging my agony.

The worst part was really cluing in to  my real issue: I'm an egomaniac.  If I'm not the best then I quit.  Better to put no book out there than to have one criticized or, even worse, ignored.  I can say I'm afraid people won't like it, but it's more like I'm afraid people won't love it, love it, love it!  I need addiction counseling for my need to be loved, praised, and deemed worthy by others.  Jeez Louise, was it a bummer to realize my ego was running amok.  Again.

Once I discovered my ego was the problem, I told myself to be open to criticism.  Then got I on to find a new book for my reading pleasure and  perused a few reviews.  Yikes!  People wrote things like, "Worst book ever!"  "I want my money and the time it took me to read this crap back!"  And worst of worst, "Not funny!"  Yowzza.

I said to my husband, people are really mean talking about these books and I don't think I could deal with that kind of criticism.  He rightly explained, then you can't be an author because no book is universally loved by all.  I hate it when he's the Zen master and I'm the grasshopper.

I decided I needed to consider my motivation for writing. Money?  That sure would be nice, but not the most important thing.  Fame?  I don't really want to be famous.  So, why write a story, especially one as personal as The Fat Rules?  Because I love to string together words into pithy little sentences.  To connect to others.  To make someone laugh, to make someone feel understood, to make someone feel connected to me through my writing, that's why.  And because I have stories to tell.  Nothing else matters.

So with the support and love of many friends, I self-published (how fast I gave up on finding an agent is another story) because I really could not have those piles of paper sitting around my house anymore!

And now I try to remember to write because I love it, not because I need to be loved.  But seriously, if someone calls my book "not funny", I'm going to die.  :)

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