Book Launch + Anxiety + Inspiration

Keep in a Cold, Dark Place goes live May 18th.

It’s funny. You’d think anxiety goes hand and hand with a book launch, but it doesn’t. In many ways the launch of a new book for me reduces anxiety—after all the book is finally out there and nothing remains to be done. Better yet, I’m getting reviews that are uplifting.

The anxiety I want to talk about is far more insidious. And it’s either more universal than I’d originally thought, or perhaps we writers (and artists) are particularly afflicted by it. Recently, I’ve heard other writers talk about their anxiety as well as some artist friends. I think it stems in large part from the amount of time we spend alone with our thoughts. It usually hits me when I am in between projects. Unproductive. Uncertain. Uneven. Unsuccessful. Uneverything.

I can count two or three periods of time in my life now during which I thought I might have been diagnosable with a general anxiety disorder. Although I have some physical symptoms (a particularly weird one is this sense that I’m choking–yuck), the worst part about anxiety for me is the lost time. It’s distracting. It’s worse than your worst day on Facebook, where you push back from your desk and you realize you’ve done nothing that day, but EVERYTHING seemed so important at the time. That’s what I fear the most, wasting time. This fear may well have spawned Keep in a Cold, Dark Place. So perhaps anxiety is just part of the process. I don’t think so though. It’s too destructive.

Do our fears drive our inspiration? Or do fears stifle it? Is writing about fear, or a different twist on fear, enough? Or are we inhibiting our creativity by having it constrained by fears. Are we keeping our imagination in a cold, dark place?

I’m not sure of the answer quite yet. I have three book projects I want to write, but I wonder if there is another out there, that needs me to relax a little to see, like the image in one of those pixelated paintings that need you to relax the eyes for the subject to coalesce.

Anxiety is a spectrum and I know that for many people it impacts their lives in challenging ways. I’m lucky in that my anxiety seems to wax and wane without medical intervention. I feel for those of you who struggle with it.

Do you suffer from anxiety? How do you cope with yours?

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