Literary Anxiety

Photo by tableatny. Used with Creative Commons license. Edits by Jonny Eberle.

My year is off to a running start (creatively, at least). The end of January is busy for most writers of short prose, including me. A lot of literary journal reading periods and contests close around this time, turning the last week of January into a flurry of submissions. I’ve learned a lot about the process of sending my work to editors over the years. I have a better sense of when a story is ready and what piece will appeal to what publication. Yet, even with a few published pieces under my belt, I still feel a pang of worry every time I hit send.

I’m not sure why, but it never fails that when I send my work out into the world, I start to doubt myself. I call it literary anxiety — a feeling of dread at letting other people see your work and judge its merits. It doesn’t matter that I’ve spent months writing, rewriting and polishing. It doesn’t matter that I’m already a published writer. The anxiety is still there.

I think I will always worry about the quality of my work. A part of me will always feel inadequate, like a fraud and not a real artist. I also think that literary anxiety can be good — after all, if you aren’t at least a little worried about how your words will be judged, do you really care? Along with the torment, I also feel like 2016 is off to a good start. Nothing like the prospect of getting your work out to a wider audience to temper the angst of letting go.

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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. His short fiction has appeared in Creative Colloquy. You can follow him on Twitter.

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