Yesterday, I was supposed to be correcting the formatting work for the manuscript of my first and upcoming book. But I got bored, and instead started journaling about how nervous I feel about publishing it. Using my well-established, questionable judgement, I opted to share this "rant" on my facebook page.. not exactly sure why, I guess because interacting with facebook friends is also way more fun than tedious paperwork. And I was also hoping maybe it would provide a chuckle for my writing group colleagues. But in the end, it was even better: For some people, it seems to have touched a nerve- I've been getting interesting public and private feedback about how these feelings are really not specific to writing, but exemplify self-doubt applicable to any expression of creativity, self-definition, or vulnerability. So I thought: once I'm going all out there, I'll take it a step further, and maybe others will relate too. So... here goes:
True confessions of an almost-author:
As I stand within (hopefully!) a few days of launching my book, I would like to share my pre-launch panic attack, and vent all my doubts, fears, insecurities, hopes, dreams, and neuroses…
Truth? I’m kind of terrified. I mean, I’m also psyched and pumped, and occasionally grandiose-fantasizing about being interviewed by Oprah and Ellen, but also, and mainly, terrified. This book has some really personal stuff- like, actual personal information, but also, the way I think, and feel, and work, and parent, and struggle. Here are some of my fears and doubts, because I’ve found that, at least so far, I tend to be my harshest critic, and in the wise but rhymey words of Sue Johnson: If you can name it, you can tame it:
1 Worst fear: My book will hurt someone. I mean, the hard copy could technically be used, in the wrong hands, as a violent weapon of mini destruction, or cause multiple paper cuts, but I meant more that the content could hurt someone’s feelings. Or maybe I forgot to thank someone in the acknowledgements- that would be awful…
2 It may have dumb, embarrassing errors, typos, mistakes, repetitions, repetitions, and formatting snafus. Despite several rounds of editing...
3 It will be poorly received. Like, only a few copies sold to my siblings and close friends, and then.. crickets.
4 Or, maybe worse: bad reviews. I try really hard not to let my self-image be dictated by others’ opinions, but still, my inner teenager would be pretty bummed to get a lot of bad reviews. Especially if they made good points like:
5 It’s too low-brow:
It’s colloquial and unprofessional- it doesn’t quote much research or science; it’s intellectually light-weight, it’s fluffy and chatty and trite and rambly and a waste of time and money and dead trees.
6 It’s too high brow:
It’s not playful enough for this genre- it needs to get more down and real, less therapist-preachy bossy and heavy.
7 It’s irreverent: It's silly. It’s not becoming of a midlife mama, and a religious woman. I will then be shunned by my family, community and leaders, and permanently branded with a scarlet “L.” And exiled to Siberia.
8 It’s too reverent: it references G-d/ spirituality too much- it won’t appeal to a more liberal mind and will be dismissed as hippy, cultish propaganda.
9 I need to lose weight first (which, everyone knows, has EVERYTHING to do with publishing a book.)
10 It will be mocked. And scoffed. And parodied on SNL by millennial comedians with scatological humor.
11 People will say: “I feel like she’s trying to be funny, but it’s more like, cringe-y. She’s (still) a nerd.”
12 Someone will say: “Elisheva Reich Liss? I haven’t heard that name in years. But my therapist and I are still working through my participation in her school bus children’s production of Little Orphan Annie, back in 1988.” (True story..)
13 People (including me, maybe) will think: “Who does she think she is to write a book on healthy thinking? I’ve seen her in lousy moods, and heard her rant angrily and pointlessly about lots of stuff. And I’ve seen how much junk food her kids eat, and how messy her house is, and that she is (obviously) fashion-challenged. She’s probably just overcompensating and insecure, and also, a raging narcissist, looking to the masses for attention, validation, and approbation. And once, I had a whole conversation with her and she didn’t even realize she had blueberry skin on her front tooth. What a moron. Let’s have her exiled to Siberia.”
14 Then I have this weird fear that it actually would do well, because- you know how sometimes, deep down, we fear success and happiness even more than failure and misery? Because, as a professor I had in grad school once said: We fear change so much that we tend to favor familiar problems over unfamiliar solutions. And, you hear all these stories of people who are suddenly successful and then they have a breakdown, or self-sabotage, and they go ahead and tank their lives. And maybe end up in Siberia.
Ok, I feel a little better now- glad I got that out of my system, and thanks for listening!
(PS If this type of introspective TMI self-disclosure resonates with you, there is a chance you might not hate my book.)