I ran into an acquaintance at school the other day. Barely slowing down our respective paces in the hallway, she quickly noted, “the book’s coming out soon — excited!?”
“Yes!” I’m sure she expected to hear. “I’m super excited,” as we each made our way towards the parking lot. Of course I would be excited about my upcoming book release. What else would I possibly be feeling? It was the equivalent of asking “how are you” and anticipating a “fine” in response. Practically obligatory.
Unfortunately for this acquaintance, I’m a bit of an over-sharer. And also, a bit of a mess.
“Excited? Um, I wouldn’t say that’s the word, exactly” I began, dropping my bag onto the ground.
“Actually,” I sighed, I’m totally freaking out.”
“I mean, what if the book doesn’t sell? I put so much of myself into it, what if people don’t relate? What if nobody wants to help spread the word? What if the critics tear it apart? What if my publisher is disappointed with the sales? What if I make a fool of myself when I’m promoting it? What if I get stage fright at a reading?”
I took a breath.
“I know, I know, it’s great to just have written a book and I should just appreciate that and enjoy the ride. Who cares if it doesn’t do well? I’ll survive, right? I know. But I can’t enjoy it. I don’t know why I can’t, but I can’t.”
I sighed and leaned against the wall for support.
“I am excited, I guess, but there are just so many other emotions, too. I’m just not used to this kind of pressure, you know? I’m not normally accountable like this and I don’t think it’s good for me. It’s scary. I mean—”
“Ah! Hold on a sec,” the acquaintance interrupted me as she fumbled for her completely silent phone.
“I think I heard this ring and it must be important. Oh, it is. Very important. Good luck!”
She bolted off without looking back, whispering to an imaginary friend about an imaginary emergency that took her away from a very real crazy person. I haven’t seen her since and I’m pretty sure she switched pre-schools just to avoid another potential run-in with me. Can’t say I blame her at all.
The moral of the story is: Don’t ask how I’m feeling about the book unless you really want to know the answer. And, you don’t. Trust me.