Friday Night Panic Attacks

Lord almighty, shit is fucked up in my head. I’ve been printing press releases and polishing the lists of addresses where books will go and thus looking up zip codes and getting email lists together. I made a to-do list and checked stuff off it.

I should be feeling proud but I feel light-headed and my heart is pounding in my throat. I am utterly convinced that the book sucks, that it’s not really real, because I don’t have a publisher, and that telling people other than y’all that I wrote it is going to make them feel bad for me, like “Oh, that poor Betsy, doesn’t she know we don’t give a shit about her fake book?”

But all that I kind of expected. I have lived with this fucked up brain for a while now. I know most of its tricks for undermining me.

But it has a new one. One that it’s probably been reciting for a while, very quietly, behind the noise of “you have a fake book everyone will hate.” And that is “You’re going to get in trouble.”

I don’t even know what it means, exactly. I think it’s an old, old piece of bullshit, just floating up to see if it still has any bang left, you know?

But it does! Weirdly. It does.

I mean, I know it’s bullshit, because there’s nothing to get in trouble for. I took out the few words from “Sweet Leilani” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” is long in the public domain. I’ve got some stories that mention country music stars but I don’t think I’m violating anyone’s personality rights. Ricky Skaggs sings. Jim Reeves stands around in a parking lot. Lefty Frizzell has breakfast. Those seem like things people do and nothing a family member will get mad about or be embarrassed by. I hope anyway.

But I am completely plagued by this feeling that this will blow up in my face in some terrible, life-destroying way, because I put it in writing, the very thing generations of my family are strictly warned against.

Though how one might be a writer and never put anything in writing is a mystery for the ages, I guess.

But then, writing through it helps.

At least I don’t feel like I’m going to throw up now.

And I got a shit-ton accomplished tonight. And I have good folks helping me with the rest. Still…

Anyway, Chris Jackson is over there talking about women writers and he says, “Anyway, there are ways that our reading is shaped and limited by the biases of the dominant literary gatekeepers” among which he must certainly number himself. Something about that sentence made me wonder if he’s not thinking about the public necessity of his role in ways similar to how I am.

5 thoughts on “Friday Night Panic Attacks

  1. Three things.

    First, there is a good number of people waiting to buy this book, and that number will expand once word (and the book) gets out.

    Second, if you put something in writing, and you publish it, and you find later that it ain’t right for you, you can revise it. 2nd edition, and so forth.

    Third, reading this post gives me a kind of mild gut-wrench (if there is such a thing). It reminds me of my own upbringing, and how it somehow fucked me up to the point where any accomplishment that has my name on it is somehow a transgression against God and the laws of the universe, so I should just really avoid applying myself to any personal success, especially something that I can say I created. It’s like the ghost of my childhood is standing over my shoulder waiting for me to get a little ambition going so it can haunt the shit out of it and scare it away. (The ghost is a trickster, too; it usually disguises itself as other things, like excuses and ‘priorities’.)
    Maybe you have something like that, too, B., but you got through it and you finished this book. So now it’s rising up with a vengeance, because (like the Devil on Judgment Day) it knows its time is up and it want to go out with a bang.

    Just a thought. But I think you’re doing fine. I’m going to come down there and get my copy signed by the author, too.

  2. The anxiety reminds me of the ‘You Do Not Show Off/Brag’ rule from my childhood. Which basically meant if you were good at something it was not to be mentioned and that just sucks the joy out of a lot of stuff. And it still echoes with me today.

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