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Post-Manuscript Depression

I sent my editors a nearly complete first manuscript of Working Jobs on Monday morning and unceremoniously shifted my attention to the design, marketing, and selling of the book. After months of coaxing words onto the page, agonizing over structure, and battling my inner critic, I now had at least two weeks to focus on anything but the production of a manuscript. It felt weird.

Producing the manuscript was like training for a marathon or studying for a huge exam. It takes a lot of effort to make that initial commitment, but once the commitment is made, it’s just a daily grind. Wake up, grit teeth, grind. Repeat. Then you realize that you’re at the finish line and the marathon is over. You get up and turn in your exam and walk out of the lecture hall. A couple days later, you look back at it and squint a bit because you can’t quite believe that you actually did that.

I started to feel disassociated with my work. I woke up with anxiety, nervous that I’d wrote the whole thing with blinders on, oblivious to the fact that it was unreadable. I started to compulsively refresh my inbox for any communication from my editors like a student waiting for test scores to appear.

But then I just started to focus on the other things on my task list. I designed a couple of book covers that I felt happy with and started conversations with a few companies that were interested in giving away products to future readers of the book. Whenever I’d worry about the manuscript ever reaching a publishable level of quality I’d find solace in the fact that my editors were working on it instead of me.

Then, I looked through my manuscript for blog post ideas that I could use to drum up interest for the book. I picked out five or six of them and thought up natural destinations for me to share them (e.g. subreddits). And something miraculous happened… I remembered why I wrote Working Jobs in the first place: to share the stories of people trying to love what they do so that others wouldn’t feel alone in their own pursuit.

For the last couple of weeks I’d been so caught up with the uncertainty of leaving my job and the rush of finishing my manuscript that it’d become all about me. I needed to make my book good so I could sell copies and pay rent. Now, I remembered what had carried me through the whole process: the prospect that somebody that I’d never met might interact with something of my creation and make a great decision for themselves… a decision that would move them closer to reaching their potential and benefit the world.

This might sound a little cheesy but I’ll end this with a quote from Paulo Coelho.

And, I don’t know — why do you use this word cheese? You’re too cheesy? [laughs] Do I have anything about cheese? When you say [laughs], oh, he’s being too cheesy when [he] manifest[s] something that it is the most important thing that we have, we become very cynical. Probably this is is defensive. You know? And not natural defensive attitude, because you want to love, you want to share your love, you want to show your love, but you don’t want to be cheesy. So, you destroy everything.

source

This Week

Next Week

  • Complete first full draft of website
  • Add recommended reading to each chapter of the manuscript
  • Search for an illustrator or sketch things myself

Recommended Reading (storyteller's edition)

  • The War of Art gr
  • The Right to Write gr
  • Save the Cat! gr
  • Daily Rituals gr

Help

How am I doing? Is this interesting? I know many of the ~hundred of you currently receiving this newsletter personally and I’m treating this like a one-directional penpal arrangement. Are there any topics that you’re particularly interested in? Any questions you want to ask me?

Any suggestions on any aspect of this project is so deeply appreciated. And thank you for reading.


This is Week 2 in the series I’m Writing a Book (each edition is published a couple weeks after it's written)

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