I’m currently working my way – bit by bit here and there – through Tom Bissell’s Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation, and of course, being Tom Bissell, it’s full of good stuff (it’s actually part of why I decided to put together A Brief History of the Future). And he has a wonderful passage on publishing and what it does to a writer’s brain that rings so true at the moment, given that I just finished up the second round of edits on Labyrinthian and Ravenfall comes out this month.
It’s nothing I haven’t heard before, actually, but it never hurts to hear it again, given my (perhaps incorrect but I don’t think so) impression that many aspiring authors either think it won’t happen or, when it happens, think it must be unusual.
To indulge, briefly, in further autobiography my first published book has just appeared in stores. The last year of my life – the year of finishing it, editing it and seeing it through its various page-proof passes – ranks among the most unnerving of my young life. It has not felt good, or freeing. It has been nerve-shreddingly disquieting. Publication simply allows one that much more to worry about. This cannot be said to aspiring writers often or sternly enough. Whatever they carry within themselves they believe publication cures will not, I can all but guarantee, be cured. You just wind up living with new diseases.
If one of the things you deal with in your life is mental illness, or emotional disregulation, this process will make that worse in almost every possible way.
And yet I do think it’s worth it, somehow, in the end. At least, so I’ve been given to understand.
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