If I Should Die Before I Publish

by Matt B. on April 2, 2015

I’ve been working on a book for the past nine months, and I’m afraid I’ll die before I finish.

Some of this is just melodramatic impatience; approaching the conclusion of a big project can be a nervy experience for anyone.

But some of it is OCD. This feels like it has to happen – and that life is on pause until it does. It reminds me of a guy I knew in college: he and a girl realized that they had feelings for each other, but he felt like it wouldn’t ‘count’ until they’d had sex.

I often feel this way – that life is only real if it’s happening outside, if there’s some event or external marker to distinguish this moment from the last.

Because internally, it’s a shitty, endlessly looping soundtrack: stuff that might have gone wrong, stuff that could go wrong, stuff that is going wrong RIGHT NOW unless I do something (but what?!).

So I fixate on externals, however trivial: Should I eat the whole sandwich, or is it okay to leave two bites on the plate? Did I turn in the receipt for that two-dollar cab ride? Can I muster enough energy to finish reading this chapter before bed?

I’m trying to find a way to feel good about myself – to locate an anchor, a source of pride and self-esteem.

That is why the book matters so much to me. It’s something that’ll exist – something that my mind’s quicksand won’t be able to touch. Whatever happens to me, this will still be true.

But this isn’t accurate, either – because my mind is never satisfied. There’s always some hidden clause, some caveat.

Because in this case, the book is already available – but only the print version. I had thought this would be good enough – until it happened. At that point, I learned there would be a delay. Now, I’m told, I’ll have to wait until the Kindle version gets approved before I’ll be a decent and worthwhile person.

This cycle of waiting and disappointment may suck, but it’s also showing me something again, and vividly: this is no way to treat myself.

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