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FEAR INVENTORY: NOVEL RELEASE IN 2.5 MONTHS EDITION

  1. Nobody will read it

  2. Everybody will read it

  3. Women my mother’s age who make me illogically cranky will pat me on the arm and congratulate me in ways that are no doubt genuine but will feel judgmental

  4. I’m not nice enough

  5. A book exactly like mine except more life-affirming will come out the week before

  6. A person will ask me, “what is your book about?”

  7. A person will say, why didn’t you put me in the acknowledgements section?

  8. A person will compare myself or my subject matter to Lena Dunham (though given the self-centered orientation of this list, I couldn’t entirely object)

  9. Some random person on Goodreads will give it one star because they don’t like goats, childhood, girls, or something else in the book

  10. A woman my mother’s age will say “well … it certainly is interesting

  11. I will prove myself too fragile to receive any criticism, and respond to well-meaning questions with teenage hostility

  12. I will be unable to physically withstand kindness of any variety, especially compliments

  13. What if my uncle reads it?

  14. What if that one ex who stalked me for years reads it?

  15. What if people mistake my having written a book as a tacit invitation for their opinions of it, for life?

  16. What if nobody has any opinions?

  17. What if every time I see someone reading or praising a book that isn’t my book, I’ll think, why aren’t they reading and praising my book??!! And then I immediately hate myself for this thought, and explode with shame in the form of a sour cream and cheddar Pop Chips binge in my car, in the parking lot, because I’m additionally ashamed that I binge on Pop Chips and not even a real honest junk food, so I resist bringing them into the house because that would make the whole thing more real, somehow

  18. What if this and all the above finally out me as the craven and self-obsessed individual I actually am? And I am expunged from my communities, failing to have a home as such, I die in the wilderness …

OK

Well, anyway. This list is embarrassing, but I bet it’s not unique to me! Still, it’s so easy to start thinking that everybody else is always charming, gracious, and centered when they’ve experienced something that I’m experiencing. There’s this false piety around gratitude that I really hate, but I feel like it’s the more socially acceptable thing to say when you’re in the middle of experiencing something you’ve worked for coming to life—it goes something like “but of course this is a blessing I don’t even deserve, and I’m lucky just to X Y Z.” Nuh uh. I do deserve. And part of deservingness means taking in the whole experience instead of overriding that with some mandatory sweetness. That’s something I’m really grateful for.

You know what’s really funny though? If I read this list and someone else had written it, I would want to read her book so bad …

Sarah Smith