Since I gave my publisher the final approval to print my book and set it up on Amazon for purchase, I have been in almost complete agony. Now that it is out of my hands and soon to be available to all, I want to climb into a cave and hibernate for 100 years. I am putting something out into the world that I have been working on for over four years. This anxiety is so strange because while writing it, I never really second-guessed myself. I was so committed. I was driven by the desire to show people a different side of mental illness that isn’t captured in the media.
One of the issues I am having now is that the majority of my book was written about 2-3 years ago. Regarding content, it was pretty much done over a year ago; so this past year I have been in editing hell, drowning in punctuation and typos. Consequently, there are a few sentences in the book that I wrote years ago where my view or circumstances have changed slightly. But I couldn’t make a ton of content changes this past year because as soon as you start changing things, you have to keep editing the changes. I wanted to keep changing it and editing it forever, but there comes a point where you have to stop changing it. I gave myself a deadline and forced myself to finish. And man was that hard!
After writing the email this past week to my publisher to give the final approval, I couldn’t press send. I just stared at the computer. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let it go. After a couple of hours, I finally forced myself to press send. Then once I knew that I couldn’t turn back and I couldn’t make changes, the self-hate began…
First, I started obsessing about all the things I should have done. I should have incorporated more details and stories. I should have thanked more people that helped me along the way. I should have included my recent experiences working with inspiring and amazing fellow speakers from the Stop Stigma Sacramento Speakers Bureau who also live with mental illness. I should have written more about that comedy teacher who taught me so much. I should have added more cowbell! (For those that don’t watch Saturday Night Live, ignore that last one.)
Then I started dwelling in the “What ifs?” What if my jokes offend people? What if my story makes people uncomfortable? What if one of my references is wrong? What if others that live with a mental illness don’t like it? What if people get upset because my picture on the book looks way better than I usually do in real life? What if somehow the book falls into Oprah’s lap, she reads it and then hates me? How can I go on living if Oprah hates me?!
You see where I was going. I was practically envisioning people with torches and pitchforks outside my door with Oprah leading the charge. We call this a downward spiral. For those of us with anxiety problems, this is a common occurrence. So, I did my best to make myself feel better. First, I ate a lot of chocolate pudding (it’s kind of my thing), then I went for a walk and called my mom.
Luckily, the last two activities were a good choice as the walk calmed me down, and my mom was able to talk some sense in me. She reminded me that the book will never be perfect, and no one expects it to be. There are always going to be ways to improve it, but there comes a time when you have to let go. You have to be willing to take a risk and make mistakes. She had a point, but (to be said in a childlike whine) I don’t want to make mistakes! I want to be everything to everybody… hmm. That probably isn’t the best way to live my life. Sigh.
So I think writing this article is my way of working through this anxiety. Confronting it and seeing it for what it is. After living with a mental illness for so long, I am getting better at working through these difficult emotions. In addition, I know I am not alone in the practice of self-doubt and hatred. I need to go easy on myself. This book is going to be what it’s going to be. I gave it my all. I spoke from the heart. I tried my best to share my story accurately. That is all I can do. Some will like it and some won’t…. but I truly hope people do. If I left anyone out, I apologize. If I made mistakes, well, I guess I will learn from them. They will fuel me to make my second book even better. Okay world… here I come. It’s time to let go.
My book, Chocolate Pudding in Heaven, will be ready to purchase on November 22, 2015!
Was any of this information helpful?
Let me know in the comments so I can write more of these articles!
Maggie Newcomb Raine
Maggie Newcomb Raine is Speaker, Comedian, Writer, and Mental Health Advocate.
She advocates for mental illness acceptance and mental health recovery through her speaking presentations, blog and book, Chocolate Pudding in Heaven (available on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords).