Today, I absolutely loved this video from Tessa Violet (if you haven't heard her music, go listen!) about fear and art. In it, she talks about the half an hour leading up to the release of her recent EP, when she was miserable, crying and generally freaking out and trying to figure out why she wasn't more happy.
And like, I feel you, Tessa. The day that my debut novel came out was one of the best days of my life. I saw my book in bookstores, had lunch with my editor, walked around Manhattan in the February cold, got a bubble tea, went to a celebratory dinner with my American friends, got MORE bubble tea... I felt so, so wonderfully happy. But the day before my debut novel came out was one of the worst days, emotionally, that I've ever had.
I was a mess. And not even in a concrete, understandable way, like having endless thoughts about how people would react to my novel or anything. I just felt generically terrible. And I think, as she says, it is this feeling about putting a part of yourself out into the world and not getting to have it for yourself any more. You want to share it with other people, you want to take that step, but that transition from private to public, from a work in progress to definitely 100% no takebacks done, is an emotional rollercoaster. It feels amazing once it's actually crossed that line and it's out in the world, you've done it... but the time teetering on the edge feels like a bit of a pre-emptive mourning period. The book is shifting from something you're working on to something that you created once, and you have to accept that this flawed creation is as good as it's ever going to be. You will get better, and you will create better things, but this thing is heading out to stand on its own two feet, warts and all.
And that throws us off-balance, I think, no matter how happy the actual release of art makes us too.