Friday, January 4, 2008

High Anxiety

When I was in college, I drove people absolutely batty with my personal insecurities. "I'm going to fail, I'm going to fail," I'd wail incessantly before each and every exam, only to sheepishly return, days later, saying, "OK, I know I got an A, but I really did think I was going to fail."

I've been trying to keep that in mind these past few days as I've worked on a not-so-top-secret article for a Very Impressive Magazine Title under somewhat unusual circumstances. (My editor is someone I know very, very well. Working for him combines not only my usual somewhat-suckup-y and clearly daddy-related/this-woman-needs-therapy-badly need to please my editor, whoever he may be, but my much more specific need-to-please-this-specific-person-because-if-his-opinion-of-my-writing-really-really-really-matters-to-me issues.) I've been failing miserably. This morning (well, late last night) I handed in the piece with much, much trepidation. It just felt like so much less than what I'm capable of; it felt like something I'd overthought and overresearched and had way too little fun with, and I'm certain the writing reflects that. It's been so long since I've done a piece of 'real' science writing for any place even resembling the Very Impressive Magazine Title. I felt rusty and awkward, as if I couldn't trust my instincts.

My editor says he won't be able to read the piece for a few days, and that is only increasing my anxiety. I want him to read it NOW. I can't wait days to hear that it sucks, that I've let him down, that I need to do about seven days' worth of work on it in an hour and a half so that it can be published. I definitely can't wait days to hear that they won't be paying me for it; that they're scrapping it. Nor can anyone around my house wait days for me to just shut the fuck up about my insecurities and move on.

I'm going to fail. I'm definitely going to fail.

[If this sounds at all familiar to you--not just this particular type of angst, but the way in which I presented it--it is. I felt oddly deja-vu-ish while writing it, and so checked to see if I'd written it before. Yup. Everything old is old again. I will, however, point out that while the meeting I talked about for that particular day didn't go as badly as I'd thought, I did get fired from that job--well, laid off--just a couple of months later. I don't always get an A in the end.]


MOM said...

You always get an "A" from me!
Take some deep breaths and do something fun for yourself.

I love you!


Green said...

If you can think of a way to revise it and make it better, then do it now and re-send him a new one saying "I made some changes - toss the old one."

Do you have a writing buddy or mentor of some sort who can review this for you?

Shelve your anxiety since there's nothing you can do to fix this anyway, and tell us how you wound up handling your son's birthday party invitations. Please.

Ambre said...

Wait. The more important question. Am I in it????

You did say this was all about me, right?

po said...

Come on Ambre, you gave the best quotes EVER, and all while TC was supposed to be interviewing ME :D. So surely you're in it.

TC: chill, girlfriend. You are an AMAZING writer and I'm sure you did a fantastic job. The Very Impressive Editor from the Very Impressive Magazine Title will be very impressed with it. I promise.