It’s not always easy living with me. But my husband, Peter, has to.
I know it is not easy, because I live with myself every day, and I feel the bits of anxiety and nervousness and occasional emotional overload escape out of me and flood the house that Peter has to live in. Sometimes, I feel bad for Peter.
The problem I am currently facing is a little too much good news.
I am well-conditioned to bad news. I know it is like a physical pain that will pass, often much sooner than I expect. Writing and submitting my writing to strangers involves a lot of bad news, and I have become a bad-news expert.
“Aha! More bad news!” I announce to myself. I am ready.
But then, this past week, something unexpected happened.
“Aha! More bad news!” I announced, all braced and ready to deal with the next wave of disappointment. But it was not bad news. It was good news. That’s when the trouble started.
Good news makes me terribly anxious. Good news makes me feel like there has been some awful mistake, some sort of misunderstanding, and I am going to have to explain myself sooner or later and set the person who has made this error straight.
“What am I missing?” I wonder, again and again. It is intensely uncomfortable.
For the past two years, I’ve been working on my little novels. They are set in an imaginary small town where all sorts of unexpected things happen. They are filled with people who are as real to me as my actual friends, and places I can visualize more clearly than places I have actually seen. I’ve been living in this world more or less nonstop since before the pandemic started and, every so often, I’ve submitted my book to someone. Generally, whoever I’ve sent it to does not reply. I have learned this is the way things go. Most people are too busy to type, “Sorry. I am not interested.” Or even just, “No!”
So I watch my email rather compulsively and usually no response arrives and, when something does, it is obviously a form letter that tells me the person who got my mail did not like my writing as much as they would have to in order to sell it. And I am surprisingly OK with this. I don’t want someone selling my writing who is not enthusiastic about it. Of course, I occasionally worry that there might not be anyone who likes it. But when I start to worry about that, I just go back into my book and confer with all the charming people who live in it. They dismiss the idea as absurd.
“Ridiculous!” they say. “Who wouldn’t like us?” I have to admit they have a point. I keep writing.
But now, there is someone who likes my little book very much, and this has me in a state that can best be described as a frenzy. Certainly, there has been a mistake. This can’t really have happened so soon. Something dreadful must surely follow. I realize this makes no sense, but it is a more or less constant narration in my head. I have no coping skills for good news.
And things take time. Nothing is ever taken care of in an afternoon. Everything requires conversations and paper and questions and consideration. It is exhausting.
“What do I do now?” I asked Peter, sounding desperate and anxious and more than a little crazy.
“Why don’t you write?” Peter suggested.
Seriously, what would I do without Peter?
Till next time,