My book of essays is really, truly just about done. In fact, the proof copy will arrive today. I’ve been alternately excited and terrified by the prospect of this actual book appearing in my mailbox. Things just got real.
Leading up to uploading my book contents and cover in CreateSpace, there were hours and days of formatting and designing and template-ing and sizing illustrations and reading about fonts. As my intrepid publisher (Carl) and I made decisions and cleaned things up, we got closer and closer to this proof-arrives-in-mailbox moment. And as we got closer, I got more nutty.
It’s as if my sub-conscious wanted to stop the presses. DO NOT do this, it screamed. Desperate ego that it is, it devised lots of ways to slow down the process. Here are a few of the more extravagant ideas that took hold:
- There are too many em dashes—like so. They are clearly the sign of a lazy writer. I need to go back into the book and rework every sentence that has such an offensive punctuation mark.
- There aren’t enough contractions in the book. The style is too formal. I need to edit the entire book and add contractions wherever they make sense.
- The subtitle isn’t right. I can’t move forward with this until I rearrange the words a few more times, write them on sticky notes all over my desk, and roll them around on my tongue.
- This last one is Carolyn’s: My book is almost done, but it doesn’t have any humor in it. I just need to rewrite it now so it’s more humorous.
The stall tactics are so ridiculous they’re funny. But there’s truth there too. Underneath all that wordsmithing is a more universal dread: it’s not good enough.
The logical part of my brain knows that not everyone will like the book. Some people won’t appreciate the subject matter or won’t be able to relate. Some will disagree with my worldview. Some will feel pain because I talk about loss and living a courageous life and being willing to be vulnerable. This is not for everyone. I can be OK with this.
But, the emotional part of my brain wants to be accepted and loved. Rejection feels so bad. If I don’t put this art out there, I thought, it can never fail. Better to just play it small and know you are loved rather than know you have lived.
Art can’t make itself be loved. It is simply art. It’s what our souls create and we are compelled to hand over to the world. When we write or sing or dance or draw or paint, we let loved ones and complete strangers into our hearts. They see our brightness and our shadow side, and all the mess in between. We deliver our whole and real selves and brace for the blow. I have never felt more alive.