In under a week, my first collection of poetry comes out. It’s another self-publishing experience, and one a bit different to the first time round (with my novel Mundane Magic).
But there’s one thing that I have noticed is absolutely, completely the same. And I don’t know whether it’s related to my mental health, or it’s something that’s common to everyone. I have trouble distinguishing between the two a lot of the time, because my symptoms are so pervasive.
It just all feels very anticlimactic. And it doesn’t really feel real.
Here’s the thing. All of the work of publishing, which I’ve talked about before, is in the prep. Everything comes together in a weird quick way, and then it’s submitted, and then the proof copy turns up and it’s fine and voila, your book is publishing.
I spent so much time, effort and energy building to that moment that when it happened, it felt…odd.
This is really hard because right now, I’m meant to be excited about it. I’m meant to be telling you – look! I made this thing! It’s amazing! And yes, I’m managing to do that, but it feels surface level, a lot of the time.
It isn’t that I’m not proud of my book. I am. Really. Holding it in my hands gives me this feeling of achievement that I can’t quite describe. But all the same, I feel disconnected to it somehow.
And that disconnection, in turn, makes me feel guilty.
You’re all being so kind, and supportive, and people are sharing things and celebrating and pre-ordering. And I’m sitting here playing World of Warcraft, refreshing notifications, because I don’t know how to process this weird feeling of disconnection. Even writing this post is hard.
I can explain a lot of it. This year has been incredibly hard – sometimes it’s difficult to remember just how much has happened in it. It’s also contained some really amazing things, and a lot of things I am really proud of achieving. But honestly, I’m tired. And I think that a lot of this can also be attributed to that.
In many ways this is just the harsh reality of existence. You can love something and be excited about it, and at the same time find making yourself do it to be the hardest thing in the world. No dream job is devoid of this truth. Sometimes, the things you enjoy most are hard.
So if I’m trying one thing more than anything, it’s just to sit with my feelings.
Whether that’s my guilt or my excitement or my fatigue, I’m just trying to let it be. To sit with it. And, yes, a lot of the time that looks like playing World of Warcraft.
But I’m also still creating things. I’m writing, but writing fanfiction and LARP fiction, things I can give to friends or anonymously to communities. I’m letting myself enjoy their love and feedback too. Losing myself in that has really helped, and made me feel connected still to my creativity, even if I’m struggling with the post-creativity part of my job.
It means that when I’m feeling able I can engage with the process of publishing, and when I’m not I don’t have to. No, that’s not eradicated me worrying or stressing about it entirely. But it’s helping.
Because even when you’re doing something monumental, you are still so much more than that one monument.
If you enjoyed this post, there are tons of ways to support my work – including by pre-ordering How to Forgive Yourself in Fifteen Years right now!