Stress and angst and nerves, oh my!

by Diana

Mark of the Demon officially hits the shelves in slightly over two weeks. Since it has a soft drop (i.e. bookstores can put it on the shelves as soon as they receive the shipment,) this means that it could possibly be found in the wild in slightly over one week. This is, obviously, a really big deal for me. I’ve been working toward this goal–to see one of MY books for sale in bookstores–for the majority of my life.

 Confession time: For the past few weeks I’ve been in a miserable, depressed mood. I’ll sink into a deep funk, and then I’ll feel guilty for being in a miserable, depressed mood, because this is my dream and I should be ecstatic and over the moon with joy. And that makes me feel even worse… Yeah, you get the idea.

 The bitter irony of it is that I saw this same mood shift in other writers, and told myself that I would NEVER be like that. I would never be so ungrateful to the forces of luck and skill and persistence that led me to this shining moment. Oh no, not me! I would treasure every moment! Squeeze every blood-red drop of joy from it that I could!  Writer-friends of mine who were already well down the path of publication warned me of the “post-partum depression.” Or rather, they tried to warn me. I smiled and nodded and made understanding noises, and then came away with the deep conviction that I was far better than that, and that I understood the nature of the business and I was prepared and I wouldn’t let it all get to me.

The universe has a way of smacking smug bitches like me with big heavy reality checks. Fortunately my writer-friends (and non-writer friends!) are awesome. If not for the many kind reminders that this is a fairly natural and normal phase, I probably would have continued to go through all of this thinking that I was the only writer to feel like this, and continuing to feel like a bad, horrible, ungrateful person for feeling anything but spurting rainbows of joy. 

 I think that the biggest problem is that this is The Dream. I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted people to read MY books. I became like a bride preparing for her wedding day–envisioning a magical experience replete with smiles and sunshine and “happiest day of my life” moments. But then it rains, and the limo breaks down, and you break a heel, and the best man shows up drunk, and the “happiest day” turns into a grit-your-teeth slog just to get through it and make it to the honeymoon.  Just like in publishing there are layoffs, and a piss-poor economy, and budget cutbacks, and lack of advertising, and the onus of self-promotion… 

 But of course, your wedding day shouldn’t be the happiest day of your life, right? Otherwise it would all be downhill from there. The release of that first book is just the very beginning of a “new life,” replete with challenges of its own. It’s the first step on a new road, and even though it’s a great and awesome road, it’s crowded and endless, and you can’t slow your pace without fear of getting knocked off into the ditch. (And yes, I AM going to go completely overboard with metaphors in this post!)

 So, I’ve taken some steps to drag my kicking and screaming ass back to sanity. (Or as close as is possible for me!):

 –I’ve reminded myself (and have been reminded) that I’m not the only one to go through this funk phase. Accepting that damn near every writer goes through this has allowed me to chisel off much of the guilt portion of my funk.

 –I’ve reduced the other projects in my life that aren’t vital and that are causing me stress. One such project was my launch party. That was part of my “Big Dream” vision, but it ended up being One More Thing for me to have to deal with (and pay for!). The telling thing was that the minute I decided to not bother with a launch party, I felt a hundred times better. (Besides, I can always throw a party later on down the road.)

 –I’ve also forced myself to become more organized with the self-promotion and non-fiction writing end of things. The majority of my self-promotion efforts have been online, and so far I’ve been pleased with the results. However, every interview or guest blog post takes time and mental effort, and before I knew it I had a list half a page long of things that needed to be written or answered, each with an attached due date. I’ve never been a freelancer or anything of that sort, so the only deadlines I had any experience with were the ones for my books.  I had to learn how to organize and prioritize, listing the projects in the order of importance and due date, and was finally able to chisel my way through a hefty portion of them. (The time I spent at the writers retreat in Kentucky helped with that too. With fewer distractions I was able to complete a good number of the projects, and even though I didn’t get through them all, I was at least able to get my focus back. I highly recommend the Getting Away From It All technique of dealing with stress.)

 –And, finally, I’m asking questions more–of my fellow writers, of my agent, and of my editor. Instead of fretting and wondering and worrying, I’ve gritted my teeth and asked what’s possible and what I should expect. I’ve had my illusions shattered a few times, but the end result is that feel more prepared. And sometimes a big issue that I thought just had to be endured can be worked around.

 I’m going to finish getting ready for my “wedding day” now. I plan on bringing an umbrella, and sensible shoes.


3 Responses to “Stress and angst and nerves, oh my!”

  1. June 7, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Hi Diana,
    As a reader, I didn’t realize that writers went through this emotion roller coaster your experiencing. But it sounds like your pulling it together very well and I wish you the best in the next coming weeks and after.

    I’ve read several raving reviews and seen glowing comments here and there, on Mark of the Demon, so I’ve pre-ordered my copy. I honestly can’t wait to get it.

    Take care,

  2. June 7, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Thanks, Donna! I think the problem is that most writers are basically insane..

  3. 3 rachelaaron
    June 7, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Fret not! As a cheerful wedding guest, I will take pictures when I see it in my bookstore! (I’ll even move it up to the front for you :D)

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