I realize this sounds like a joke. Book-related anxiety? What even is that? Being stressed about your bookshelves not being organized enough? Anxiety over not liking a book? Being worried that you might be crushed under your TBR?
(And sort of yes—except for that last one. I don’t really think I’ll be crushed by my TBR—though I could be injured.)
Except I’ve realized that I have actual anxieties that are related to books. This probably isn’t healthy, but I don’t know how to get rid of them besides telling myself to stop freaking out. Which doesn’t work all that well.
Some things I stress out about:
I can’t read all the books.
This sounds obvious and utterly ridiculous, but I actually have a physical anxiety response when I think about all the books I want to read and the impossibility of reading them all. I’ll be reading someone’s post about an amazing book … and start to think about the fact that it’s been on my TBR for so long … and then I think about all those other books that have been on my TBR for so long.
Literally, writing this right now is making my chest feel tight and my head tingle—I start to have a panic response.
I’m behind on reviews.
It seems that no matter how hard I try to stay on top of the review books I receive, I’m still behind. At one point, I had a list of seven books for review that I just kept pushing back in my calendar. And back. And back. Just thinking about it made me want to scream.
I did actually come up with a (semi-)solution to this problem, though. I created a spreadsheet with my backlist review books in it and vowed to read two a month. Somehow just having them written out in spreadsheet form and having a plan to tackle them has helped me feel more on top of things.
I have more books than will fit on my shelves.
I realize that this just sounds like a ridiculous problem, but I spend an inordinate amount of time reorganizing my bookshelves because of it. I’m constantly trying to figure out where I can squeeze one more book in or arguing with myself over which ones I should get rid of. My husband bought me three giant bookcases a few years ago (plus I have another big one in the office and there are bookshelves in my kids’ rooms), but they’re still overflowing. There are piles next to the bookcases and on my nightstand and in my closet… Okay, I have to stop thinking about this now because I have the urge to get up and do some more reorganizing.
I don’t read many non-review books.
This actually goes hand-in-hand with all three of the last bullet points. I’m behind on reviews, so I feel like I can’t read books that aren’t specifically for review, so the books I’ve bought end up gathering dust on my shelves, and all of that leads to anxiety because … I can’t read all the books of ever!!! (Why, oh why?)
I can’t finish series.
I have so many series that I haven’t completed that I loved. But I just can’t manage to read the final book. Why do I do this to myself? I wait so long that eventually I feel like I can’t read the final book because I won’t remember the previous books well enough. I’m making myself crazy!
One of the most recent examples of this that I can think of is Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake. I ADORE this series and I want to know how it ends! Why haven’t I read the final book?
The only reasoning I can come up with in these cases is that I have some sort of innate fear that I won’t like that final book and I’ll ruin the series for myself. Or maybe I just can’t bear for it to be over? I don’t know, but this is a horrible reading habit that stresses me out … I wish I could stop.
I really, really, really want to see my own book on my shelf someday.
In the early days, the publishing journey felt like it was going swimmingly … I got incredibly positive feedback from an editor! Woo hoo!! I got an agent! Woo hoo!! I workshopped my book, and an actual published author I respect was impressed! Woo hoo!!
But here I am a year later, and things have sort of started feeling … stalled. I know this is how it is. I’m aware that publishing is almost always a long haul, and I just need to wait until my book reaches the perfect person’s hands at the exact right moment. I still have faith it will happen. And if it doesn’t happen with this book (right now), I just need to keep writing so it can happen with the next book. But I’m not going to lie, it can be discouraging. And anxiety-producing.
Imposter syndrome is real, people—and I think at least half the publishing battle is overcoming it so you don’t just plain give up.
But my husband said something to me last night:
“No matter what happens, you know you wrote a really good book. People who know what they’re talking about have told you so.”
I can’t tell you how much those simple words encouraged me.
So, maybe, just maybe, I can let go of some of that anxiety and just enjoy my writing … and my books.
Do you have book-related anxiety? I wanna know!
This post has been linked up to the 2020 Book Blog Discussion Challenge!