Cry cry cry cry
Hi friends. Apologies that this newsletter is a day late, but I hope after you read it, you understand why.
Here’s a list of everywhere I have cried this week:
On the C train uptown heading to meet K and C for lunch
At Fish Cheeks in Soho waiting for A to arrive as the waiter fills up my water glass; again, minutes later, over the steamed fish while A pats my arm
In the Metrograph lobby after watching Arrival with J, blaming my hysterical crying on the movie; again, an hour later, at Super Taste in Chinatown, while J slurps his noodles
On the Staten Island ferry with my head on E’s shoulder
When I tell E at dinner that I haven’t been able to sleep lately because of stress
On A and B’s bed because B notices I am very sad and insists I go rest in their bedroom while the party goes on in their living room
In my neighborhood bookstore while I peruse the poetry section and flip open to a Sappho poem that starts with “in all honesty i want to die / leaving for good after a good long cry / she said: we both have suffered terribly / but Sappho it is hard to say goodbye”
Across the table from N as she eats the Veniero's tiramisu I got for her birthday
On S’s couch as he holds me
On S’s couch after he leaves
On my own couch
On the F train downtown reading Emezi’s Dear Senthuran—the paragraph where they say that publishing their first book was stressful and sad and lonely but it was technically a dream come true so they didn’t understand why they wanted to die
On the corner of Grand Street and Thompson Street calling my mother, who says she can’t understand how I’m feeling because she’s a scientist and I’m an artist but she’s here to listen
When I read a text from my mother that says I can always come home
When I read a text from J that says I can borrow her insomnia bracelet that helps her get to sleep because she knows I can’t sleep
When I read a text from A while walking down Second Avenue that says “I thought I would just remind you that you don’t have to do it all, all the time — now is a special time and it is okay to ask for help from your friends and do less for others”
When I open my email inbox and see another relentless slew of emails and questionnaires and interviews I have to answer about Chlorine
When I’m walking next to A to go meet our friends C and D for a movie about mermaids—A, who doesn’t notice I’m crying again because this time, for once, it’s just watery eyes instead of hyperventilating with fat tears rolling down my cheeks; then, again, after the movie on my walk back home, after I leave A and C and D in a bar because my sadness feels too heavy for me to be present
When I ask the masseuse to press harder because I need this heavy sadness beaten out of me and she says “relax, be patient, I can feel you’re strong”
When S sweetly texts me to come to karaoke because I love karaoke but I’m crying again and I’m so tired from crying again all the fucking time that I just go home
Right now, while I type this list out
I think I’m crying because of Chlorine. Not because of Chlorine itself, but because of everything around Chlorine.
To be clear, I’m not crying because I’m scared the book will fail. Like Emezi wrote about their first book, if Chlorine fails, then my life will remain the same, and that’s fine, because despite evidence to the contrary, I really, really like my life.
I’m crying because I’m scared of what it means if the book does well—how will my life change? Change is scary, especially change I can’t foresee—especially change I nevertheless want, because this is my dream. I worked my ass off for this shit. Still. It’s fucking scary.
And I’m crying because working my ass off is hard. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m overwhelmed. I know we all are, but still. I’m crying because I don’t know how I can get my day job done and sell a novel and have a life and keep writing and rest—rest? I haven’t rested in months. I’m at my capacity but there’s still more to do. And I feel dumb complaining because at the end of the day, I’m just sitting at my desk. There’s so much harder, scarier, more meaningful work that others get done. Besides, this is a dream come true, so why the fuck am I ungrateful enough to feel depressed and stressed and sad and scared? Shouldn’t I be happy? Shouldn’t I be excited? I’m not even an Olympic athlete or a famous actor! I’m just a debut author, and it’s just one novel in the sea of novels out there. So why the fuck am I freaking out?
I’m not writing this because I want sympathy. I don’t want you to feel bad for me. This is, after all, one of my dreams coming true (I have many dreams, and they keep evolving and growing, which is scary, but also lovely, in a way.) And I don’t want your pity, because if I had known all this sadness and stress would happen, I would still choose to go through with it. Because I believe in myself and I want to see what I can make and how far I can go—this writing, this making of art, means everything to me. And I don’t want you to tell me to rest. I don’t want you to insist I take a break. Because I am determined to suck out every last drop from this opportunity that I can. A dream is coming true and so I will work hard to make it keep coming true. I know that I don’t have to send that cold email. I know I don’t have to do the interview. I know I don’t have to put another thing on my calendar. But please, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I will do everything I can to make this opportunity keep happening.
Besides, I don’t know how to rest. I’ve never had an opportunity handed to me without me working for it. I sharpen my nails because I’ve never not had to claw my way from unwelcome and unheard of to welcome, here’s your seat at the table.
I’m writing this because I’ve learned it’s better to be honest about how I’m feeling. I’m writing this because I’m asking any other authors if it gets easier. I’m writing this because I’m asking for grace from my loved ones—I’ve been unable to show up 100% in the past few weeks because I feel like I’m drowning, and I’m sure it’ll just get worse as we get closer to Chlorine’s publication date. If I show up, I’m probably showing up on the verge of tears with a plan to leave early, and I’m definitely showing up ungroomed and underslept, but please know that I do love you and I want to be there for you and I’m sorry if I can’t. I’m writing this because I’m on the precipice of a big fun life event and I want to remember how scary it is. I’m writing this because I want to remind myself how much I love and am loved. And I’m writing this because I want to tell you that if you too can’t stop crying, even though everything is technically going great—you’re not alone.
Let me remind you: you’re not alone, and this reminder from me to you, from you to me, is why I love to write, and why I do want to publish. Yes, the writing and the art and the making is life-affirming—it makes me want to stay alive, while yes, the publishing and all the work around the publishing kinda makes me want to die. But the two are inextricable. I’m getting used to it, I swear. I have to. Because I want to keep writing and I want to keep sharing the writing. I promise I’ll be okay. I always am, in the end.
Anyway, thanks for reading if you made it this far. Thanks to my loved ones for holding me this week, and for asking me how they can help, and for telling me to take all the time and rest I need. Emezi wrote that “the richness they want is the kind that can be shared, where we are all together and live. Isn’t that wonderful?”
Yes, I think it is wonderful, and I can’t wait to share.
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