Since I sent my manuscript off to my editor I’ve been in a constant state of anxiety. This is unusual for me, a feeling I’m not accustomed to. It has given me a fresh insight into how difficult it must be to deal with this kind of uneasiness all the time.
I was worried that my editor would tell me I couldn’t write, that my book was confusing and I hadn’t found my voice. It felt like I was opening my soul to a stranger who would find me annoying, self-absorbed or, maybe worst of all, boring.
To get me through the past two weeks of anxiety I’ve told myself that it takes bravery to be vulnerable. If it was easy then anyone could do it. Feeling exposed is part of being an artist, and a part I need to get used to.
When I got my editorial report this weekend, none of my fears were realised. My editor had encouraging and supportive things to say and the revisions I need to do are mostly around content — parts of the story that need clarification or more information. Every thing she mentioned I had already guessed, I just needed an outside opinion to stop me filling in all the blanks and leaving no room for the reader to interpret my story in their own way.
Now, instead, I worry what will happen if my book ever makes its way into the world. I run the risk of readers finding me cold, calculating and selfish. Some will feel my ex/late husband’s greatest misfortune was to be married to me. Others will scorn the narcissistic nature of writing a memoir at all. Those who don’t like what they read will complain the loudest.
I searched the Internet for some advice. This is what I found that helps.
Sometimes new writers raise their uneasiness around writing memoir. They worry the form is self-indulgent. My response is to gently pose the question, ‘Why not indulge the self through writing?’ If this activity leads to greater self-awareness, insight and a deepening of compassion towards oneself and the people and creatures we share this planet with then why not work on a memoir. If we can then transform our experience into a story that reads well and connects with its reader then surely the memoir is a valid and worthwhile art form. ~ Deborah Shepard
Duckfish says I’m a fragile artist who will always feel anxious about something. I’m beginning to think this is true.