Yes, I haven’t posted to my blog since September 2022. SEPTEMBER! Just before my novel Vagabonder debuted, and good grief.
First, the good news:
Vagabonder has been doing really well! I’ve gotten some amazing reviews on Goodreads, and I've had two virtual book tours that connected my book with readers in the US and the UK. You can check out those reviews on Instagram and Facebook. I'm also on Twitter, but who knows how long that will last.
I also a very successful book signing with Pearl’s Books in Fayetteville just before the holidays.
A book signing which also happened just shy of two weeks after I had back surgery at the end of November.
Not necessarily my best decision. As Joe was driving us home that evening, I wondered whether I tend to take on more than I can handle sometimes.
Nah. Not me.
Post-Publication Blues: It's Real, Y'all!
When you realize your dreams, you aren’t necessarily prepared for what that might mean. I’ve dreamed of being a published author most of my life. Seeing my book as a Real Thing for the first time was a little like holding my newborn son. The labor, the anxiety, the emotional release were all familiar, and thrilling!
So was the post-publication depression. Thankfully we have a better understanding of post-partum depression now than we did back when my kiddo was born almost 30 years ago (WHAT?!?!), but the depression I experienced after realizing MY GREATEST CHILDHOOD DREAM was flabbergasting.
I worried constantly about what people thought. When someone told me they were reading my book, my reaction was fear and loathing rather than joy and anticipation.
When someone told me they liked my book, I assumed they were lying to protect my feelings.
I dreaded social media, although I tried to stay active to build my author presence.
Worst of all, I couldn’t write. The words just disappeared.
I felt like a failure. Why?
Apparently, I’m not alone. Just check these out:
I Just Published a Book: Why Am I Depressed by Jessica Berger Gross
Post Book Launch Depression Is a Thing by Rachel Michelberg
Knowing what I was experiencing wasn’t unique helped a little, but I spent the months following my September launch in a fog of exhaustion, confusion, and self-criticism. I decided to top that off with major back surgery just after Thanksgiving, setting me up nicely for the Ultimate Seasonal Affective Disorder Experience to celebrate the first few months of 2023. Disclaimer: I don't recommend this experience. 0/10, would not do again.
I’m not one to share things like this. I grew up in a time when one didn’t talk about one’s feelings, or discuss mental health issues. Being on the spectrum also means I have difficulties understanding and describing my emotions, so even though I knew what I was feeling was Not Right, I wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Spring in Arkansas came around at just the right time, and I’m feeling better these days. I’m writing more, and I’m happy to report that Book 2 is shaping up pretty nicely. I don’t know when I’ll be done with it and ready to put it out into the world, but I’m doing my best, and that’s about all any of us can do right now.
In the meantime, I’m learning to be gentle with myself. I didn’t think I had expectations about how my life would change after realizing my dream, but I realize now I sorta did.
So, dear readers and writers, cut yourself some slack. Hug an author, tell them they’re doing great, and then do the same for yourself. As Owen Sakata says, "We’re all just doing our shitty best."