Image: svanes via flickr

Image: svanes via flickr

I’m experiencing something I’ve never before experienced with my novel-in-progress: anxiety.

We’re talking major butterflies. I seriously feel like I want to throw-up. (FYI: It usually takes a lot to make me feel like this.)

My favorite/current writing instructor, plus a couple of my workshop mates, has just posted comments on the novel pages I submitted for workshop this week. And I can’t bring myself to open the files with the comments to see what they had to say. The thought of doing so makes me want to back away from my computer and hide in the closet.

I’ve workshopped pages of this novel before. This is nothing new. I’ve workshopped material from this novel and short stories that I thought were crap and I’ve never felt like this. And in the end, my negative feelings about that work was never justified.

Now with a little self-analysis, I think this out-of-nowhere anxiety stems from the fact that in the last couple weeks I’ve finally accepted that I will finish this novel and that I want to finish it. Yes, my goal for the last couple years has been to write a novel. But I think only recently did the goal become more specific: I want to write and finish this novel. (Yes, I know that makes no sense seeing as I’ve been working on this novel for over 2 years now!) And now that it’s in a way real and I want it, I’m anxious about what people think about it. Which of course makes no sense. As I’ve said, I’ve workshopped pages from this novel before. I’ve workshopped pages from this novel with this instructor. And I have never had nothing but good feedback and constructive suggestions.

I know this is completely irrational. I know that even if there is something negative in those comments they are things I can fix. And honestly, I think I know what things I could be dinged on. They’re the same things that I’ve questioned or struggled with: are my transitions between present and past tense working between narrative threads; is the emotional tone between the two narrative threads complementary; is the pacing of these pages ok or do I need to speed ahead a bit. This is my opportunity to find out if those parts work and I’m just being too critical of my work, or if they are parts I need to rework and I was right to doubt them—but at least I’d know what about them fails and what to work on.

Really, I take this feeling as a positive sign. It means I’m really invested in this novel, in finishing it, and in making it good. It’s just a little disconcerting. So, I’ll open the files, but not right now. Maybe later tonight with a glass of wine to steady my nerves and to celebrate moving forward emotionally.