I debuted yesterday. If you count a self-published novel a debut, which I do. I put handwork, tears, blood, and money into making sure this book was the best it could be before I sent it out into the world. I set up a support system as best I could. I did the best I could and I’m proud of what I put into the world.
So why am I not happy?
Maybe this is just some post-publication slump. The past six months have been leading up to yesterday and finally, FINALLY, my words are out there and I can’t touch my book anymore. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I curled up on the couch, didn’t celebrate, didn’t go out, didn’t throw a launch party. I relaxed. I grieved.
As a perfectionist, it’s hard for me to see books as completely finished. I pick up a published book and am often finding ways I could’ve made it better. When it comes to my own work, I’m never going to be happy. I’m never going to feel like I’m finished, like it’s good enough. Of course I’m proud of it, and I did the best I could by the deadline I made for myself. But the book could have always been better.
I’m starting to think that this is the big secret of being a writer. That happiness doesn’t come from meeting a milestone because there’s always another milestone to meet. I published a book but now I’m refreshing my reports to see how I’m doing with sales. I’m seeing what marketing strategies are good or post-publication. I’m always looking at what’s next and on what can be done better and more efficiently.
There is a learning curve with publishing, no matter what path you take. Despite being in the industry for a few years now I’m still searching for the answers to so many questions:
When is enough, enough?
When is it time to shelve a project?
How many critique partners/editors should I have look over a manuscript?
Am I really doing this whole writing thing… right?
So this is more of an existential crisis than any real depression. Now that I have something off my plate, I have the ability to take a step back and really look at my writing career. I’m considering my next move. I don’t feel like I’m ready to start a new project. I have some ideas kicking around but nothing that’s viable yet.
So I’m going back to Lake Effect. Back to editing for my clients. I’m going to focus on getting myself into shape, mentally and physically. All the while, I’ll be thinking about the lessons I learned from Without Benefits. I’ll be figuring out how to do it bigger, and better, the next time around. I’m proud of the book I put out. But I’m never going to be happy.
It’s the burden of being a perfectionist and a writer.