There is No Off-Switch on the Crying Machine

posted by Leann Sweeney

You would think that finishing a book and then scrambling hard to complete the rewrites in a week would be a joyful experience. A cause for celebration. A time to have some kick-ass fun. Well, you'd be wrong. At least for this crybaby. Yes, Sunday was meltdown time in the Houston suburbs. Being Mother's Day did not help. Both kids failed to send me a card for the first time in, well, forever. That's what tipped the scales. No stupid little cards with awful rhymes. Who-da thunk that would send a woman over the edge? Certainly not my husband. Poor man thought he might have to pull out those commitment papers again.

Please be assured my kids called me, as I knew they would. They do love their mom. But there I was, crying all day--and I mean ALL DAY. And when they called, they knew I was a mess. Agnes My sobbing explanations and apologies did nothing for them and nothing for me. And less than nothing for my dazed and confused husband. Talk about worst Mother's Day ever? And it had nothing to do with any of them. I was having serious post-manuscript depression. There has to be money in this for the pharmaceutical companies so I am begging you Corporate America, get on this--fast.

Letting go of a book you've spent months and months with--usually about nine months, which is no coincidence--is difficult for me. There is always more that could be done to make it better, more time to get the words right, more time to do the impossible--write a book I am completely happy with. And apparently releasing the pressure caused by these unrealistic expectations leads to serious psychotic behavior. Was there a full moon? I don't know but I surely hope so. I need all the excuses available. I simply have to get myself off the hook with myself. My therapist was kind. Man, that woman can spin anything and yes, I repeat, I am seeking help for insecure writer syndrome. My kids understood and I received a gigantic bouquet of roses on Monday which only fueled more guilt. My husband forgave me for ruining a perfectly fine Sunday. My God, he even cooked! Where were my priorities?

But true insight into this bizarre behavior did not come until yesterday and true joy came with this understanding. My editor's opinion of the rewrite was that I had done a wonderful job in short order. That's not what made me smile, however. There was but one paragraph she wanted me to remove and four line edits her assistant suggested. Nothing, you say, but I was grinning from ear to ear. I got my baby back for one more run-through. I was a mother again with a baby to rock and I have enjoyed fiddling with here a word, there a word, every where a word-word. I made no significantchanges. However, simply having the book under my absolute control for one more day has been heaven. Now I can send this baby off with a smile and think about something else. Like the next one.

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