Afraid of Living

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I am not afraid to die –
but I am not yet
unafraid of living.

I’m not sure I have ever written truer words than the 3-line poem above. This little gem came to me while taking a bath last night, so I repeated it to myself like a mantra until I got out of the tub and could write it down.

It is true that I am not afraid of death. I am a bit afraid of the actual feeling of dying, mostly because of the instinctual anxiety I fear it would bring. However, I am not afraid of being dead. In fact, I rather look forward to it. If there is something after death, it will be awesome to explore and find out what else is out there. If there is nothing after death, it will just be like the times I have passed out or been put out for surgery…simply a loss of consciousness which often sounds like a relief in itself. No more worrying. No more pain. No more anxiety or depression.

However, living is scary. Knowing I may have years and years of dealing with anxiety and depression ahead of me. Knowing that I will likely suffer from chronic pain and chronic illness until I die. Knowing that my degenerative conditions will likely worsen with time. Fearing that my husband may get sick or die and I will be alone. Fearing financial ruin. Fearing homelessness. Fearing potentially abusive situations. Fearing the entire planet going to shit (a justifiable fear from my point of view). Fearing that I may end up committing suicide if life becomes unbearable (not the ending I would desire for my life).

Relationship PTSD

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Everywhere I go
I fear I’ll find you.
I skulk around the edge
of each aisle,
scanning faces
to make sure it is safe.
I play out
our fearfully planned reunion
again and again
in my mind.

When the inevitable collision
happens, I consider
speaking Spanish
or pretending I don’t know you.
In every scenario
you see past the lie,
but you don’t always
call me out on it.

Instead, you give me
that knowing smirk
(the one I hate so much),
turn your head
and walk on by –
leaving me convinced
that a knock-down, drag-out
confrontation
might have been better
in the end.

~ Maranda Russell

Author Anxiety

You would think after you have your first book published and spend lots of time out in the public marketing it, that you wouldn’t be so nervous about future releases. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. At least, not for me.

Of course, I think part of the reason I am anxious right now is due to the nature of the current project I am working on. You see, my first published book was a picture book, but the book I am currently editing for publication is a poetry collection geared for young adults. There are several reasons that this particular project makes me nervous, so I figured that maybe if I put a name to these worries and move them out of the dark corner of my mind, perhaps they won’t have such power over me. So here they are, the anxious thoughts that have been haunting my dreams and my waking hours too:

  1. The first worry is just that the book will be a big flop. Now this is a worry authors seem to have with every book they write, but I think the concern is greater with poetry books. Why? Because normally poetry just doesn’t sell. It’s sad but true. I do have a little glimmer of hope though since my book will be geared towards young adults, who actually do read books in verse, as long as they aren’t pretentious and boring.
  2. Since this book is for young adults, that brings insecurities of its own. I’m used to reading my work to little kids who treat me like a superstar because I am an author. I’m not sure how teens will treat me. I guess my biggest fear is that they will roll their eyes, fall asleep or pronounce my work “lame”.
  3. I know this may seem like a silly concern, but punctuation weighs heavily on me at times. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about the correct way to punctuate poetry. There are the grammar police who think you should punctuate poetry exactly like you would prose. Then there are the free spirited folks who don’t want to see much punctuation. Honestly, I don’t think¬†that teens¬†will care much about the punctuation, BUT their teachers might…and they are the ones I have to impress to book school visits.
  4. Lastly, I am plagued by insecurity simply due to the vulnerability of poetry. Yes, as an author I do put a bit of myself into any book I write, but poetry takes that intimacy to an entirely different level. We put so much of ourselves into our poetry…fill it with our hopes, dreams, pains, struggles and our most private thoughts. If my poetry was rejected, I would honestly feel like I was rejected, because there is so much of myself contained within those verses.

You may be wondering by this point why I am even bothering to publish this book if I am so anxious about it. The fact is, regardless of how it turns out, I want to put myself out there. I want to be honest and real, expose the parts of myself that most people don’t see. Why? Because those are the kinds of books that have changed my life, and I want to do the same for the kids I come in contact with. I think the rewards will eventually outweigh the heartache…at least I hope they do.