I’m going to admit it. I’m suffering from what an artist friend of mine calls “Post Project Depression.” Not uncommon among creative types. Happens when you pour your heart and soul into a project and then, upon its completion, you are left feeling…sad? let down? like it could have been better? I find it hard to pinpoint the exact sentiment.
I received the shipment of my book at the end of November, and was pleased as punch over how it turned out. I overnighted a few copies to bring with me to a writer’s retreat that Catherine Lazar Odell, the illustrator of the book, and I had signed up for. I was nearly bursting at the seams wanting to share it. I tried to play it cool. I hadn’t known in time that the book would be ready, so I hadn’t signed up for any agency or publisher critique, and so I would try to share the book if possible in a less formal way. Though billed as a “retreat,” we spent our days attending seminars that were filled with tons and tons of valuable information. Led by people in the business, as well as seasoned writers and illustrators, the classes were eye opening for me. And little by little, I got the sinking suspicion that self-publishing my work was a big mistake.
Instead of proving that I was a go-getter, and dedicated to the craft of children’s book writing, I began to infer that to agents and publishers, it looked a lot more like I was just a rule breaker. That instead of going through the process, which for many (all?) writers means a combination of years of rejection and seemingly endless rounds of edits, I took the easy route. Of course figuring out all of the publishing, printing, and marketing stuff is far from easy, but I get the point. I bypassed any input from actual experts and did it myself. This would not endear them to me, this would not be the foot in the door I had hoped it would be. It might not hurt me in any way, or it might. But it most likely wasn’t going to be any help, either. I did share my book with the other retreat participants, but I steered clear of all of the publishers and agents. I barely could make eye contact with them – I felt like a guilt-ridden child. I looked down at the glossy cover of my little 24-page pride and joy, and felt as though I had let it down. My buzz over finishing the book was officially killed, and I began to wonder why I had been in such a damn hurry in the first place.
After that, I started marketing the book on Facebook, my website, and by doing readings around my town. As the reality of how much work was actually involved in doing a good job of this, I got even more depressed. Because I also still have a business to cater to. And also, and even more importantly, I have a two year old boy to raise.
So, my go-with-your-gut/have-faith-that-all-will-be-alright mentality of yesteryear isn’t quite as easy for me to pull off anymore. I have to think about how that will effect my son, and also my business and other responsibilities. My sister-in-law, who has been a mother much longer than me, told me , “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” I knew this was true. I know it more intimately now.
But! I’ve been down and out long enough. So things didn’t go perfectly? Sheesh. Give me a break. What a silly thing to feel sorry for yourself over. I love my book, and I can’t wait to prove myself to the publishing community. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to read it to kids all over this town. The smiles on their faces, their giggles, their roars, growls, and cock-a-doodle-doos are all that really matters.