Friday, September 2, 2011


Dread. Noun. ‘Be in great fear of; shrink from, look forward to with terror.’Concise Oxford Dictionary.

At times I feel the most unutterable dread. This often accompanies a book coming out. It used to be dread of exposing myself or exposing other people who were close to me. Dread that they might be hurt or might retaliate.
But I still feel this dread when the exposure is less personal.
Dread about getting it wrong.
Dread about some smartypants academic crowing over the inevitable mistake.
Dread about getting it wrong.
Dread about - being alive.
Dread, this strange oppressive feeling, of being squeezed in.
I wake at 2 in the morning and obsess.
I can’t understand it. Maybe it’s part of being human. 
I’ve talked to other writers and some have said they feel the same sense of dread when a book comes out.
It’s so very peculiar. When you are writing a book you feel a lot of things  - joy, depression, confusion, exhaustion. But you don’t normally feel dread.
But when a book nears its public viewing - I feel - well, dread.
I don’t know if it’s protective, or a sense of loss of control. It’s when a book or a project meets...the world. 
Anyone who reads a book can have an opinion and that opinion is - to a degree - legitimate. 
Maybe all along you had it wrong.
Maybe all along you were just obsessed, stupid, ridiculous.
Yes, that’s what it’s about. You are frightened of being ridiculous, or worse, made ridiculous.
In one way you are airing your own obsession.  The way you see the world.
When you’re writing you’re carried along by the act of writing itself and the pleasure of living inside a world which appears coherent and full of its own meaning: but when this world hits the outside air, it may fall apart.
You may be exposed as someone who is delusory.
Maybe this is what the dread is all about.
Grinding the backteeth dread.
Wide awake at exactly the same time each night dread.
Circular, can’t escape the problem dread.
Dread. Dread. Dread. 
Most writers only talk about freedom.
I talk about dread.


  1. Circular, can't escape the problem dread.
    That line is a poem.
    Actually, your entry for September 2 IS a poem.

  2. Oh, this is very similar to doing a painting show.

    I try to deal with it by assuming that I AM 'just obsessed, stupid, ridiculous'.

    And that's all right. The only world of coherence and meaning you're ever going to get is the one you create in your own head.

    It doesn't matter if it falls apart.

    Freedom through dread!

  3. I'm with you, dread, and intractable nausea. It generally eases after about a month, but then spikes if I even get a whiff of a review.

    Actually, that whole level of anxiety, vulnerability and sleeplessness around the release of a book is pretty similar to what I experienced after having babies!