I got a story published. Cool. I’m happy about it. It’s, you know, kind of the fucking goal.
So, when I get the email that the magazine is out, I start planning. I want to market it. I want people to read it. So, I think about when a good time to post would be. When will it get the best attention? When will people actually see it in their feed? I actively plan to post in the mid-morning to give the thing some time.
You get maybe one day, before everything gets gobbled up by the continuing stream of information. I’m not complaining. That’s the truth with everything. The shelf life is really short these days.
So, I planned and executed. And things went relatively well. I need to grow my social media accounts outside of just my friend groups. In essence, I need to recruit a fan base. But for a dude who has published two stories, I think I did pretty well. I coordinated, I posted, and I got some attention and feedback. All good.
Until my brain blew up.
About half a day into these posts being live, I started freaking out. Why would anyone want to read my stuff? Why are a couple of people even telling me that they like it? What the fuck is going on?
That’s my brain. It’s a swirling hellscape that refuses to understand what it means to receive positive reinforcement. It also has not come to terms with the fact that publication means that there will be eyes on the work that I’ve produced. And, if you haven’t noticed, I GOT WHAT I WANTED BECAUSE I MADE A PLAN TO ADVERTISE THE PUBLICATION.
There’s no answer for this type of behavior. At least, I haven’t found it. As someone who is producing something for other peoples consumption (I really hesitate to call what I do art and I’m not saying that to reverse psychology this. I write trashy stories for fun) you need to advertise them yourself or no one is going to read them. You have to start somewhere. Part of me thinks that is fine/cool/okay. The other part doesn’t.
If you read this blog, you know that I want people to be impressed by me. That’s not to say that I am a showboat. It’s that I have a deep-seeded need for approval from people who are not actively engaged in my life. It’s a problem that I am aware of and working on. But it is also a motivating factor in making sure that I share/advertise my work. I want people to see and read my stuff. I want this outcome because I created the work, I sent it for publication, I am proud of it, and, yes, I want the approval of people who are not active in my life.
But there is also a part of me who is sometimes ashamed that the work that I create is not some literary masterpiece. I feel ashamed that I write scary stories. If I am going to sacrifice all this time to develop something, shouldn’t it have more weight than something spooky? But I also have spent a huge amount of time arguing that horror is a genre of great value. Why can I not be happy with having produced something instead of nothing? Why?
I’m fucking insane.
No, I’m not. I shouldn’t write that. I’m just a person who is figuring things out. Some people never get published or they never commit to writing. I have privilege here. I have the ability, time, and education to be able to write and publish in literary markets. Some people don’t have any of these opportunities. I know. I know. I’m checking myself before I wreck myself.
But god damn, my mind goes nuts.
This piece is for me. I just needed to write out what is going on in my mind. But I also think this post is for you, dear reader. Remember that self-sabotage and self-imposed shame can be damaging. I should have been celebrating my publication, instead I have been a grumpy asshole.
I guess the lesson is this: If you are going to write stories for the sake of publishing them, then you have a degree of pompousness to you. That’s just the truth. If you didn’t, those stories could sit in a drawer and never be read and you would be okay with that.
If you are going to publish, then you need to stand behind that sliver of confidence that made you push the submit button. You have to… Otherwise, you will find yourself descending into the harsh contradictions of your mind, unable to find your way out.