Telling the World

Monkey Mind comes out in about seven months, and as the final changes get implemented (a word my editor has banned me from using due to some horrible prejudice), and I continue to drive the copy editors, proofreaders, and sub-editors mad with all my niggling worries about commas and semi-colons and line breaks and the like, one worry does not seem to have me bolting up at night in a cold white panic. This is the worry of what people keep calling “exposure,” as in: “Dan, aren’t you worried about all the … exposure?”

What they mean to ask is whether I’m nervous about people knowing the towering extent of my anxiety. Strangely, I’m not. I’m worried about people knowing the towering extent of my inability to write as well as I’d like. I’ve been trying to get my editor to include the following blurb on the hardcover:

“Now the world shall know the full scope of my ineptitude. If I could, I’d buy ever last copy of this book and bury them in my backyard. But I don’t have a backyard, cause I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life.” —Daniel Smith

She won’t do it.

The so-called revelations don’t bother me much, though. I’m not entirely certain why this is. It could be that the act of revealing one’s vices and disturbances has become so common in our time — so almost reflexive — that there’s simply nothing to be nervous about. If Paris Hilton can record herself fellating a guy in night vision, why should I be concerned about telling people I’m anxious? Where’s the shame when there’s no such thing as shame anymore?

And if there should be shame in self-revelation, why should there be shame in self-revelation about anxiety, of all things? Anxiety is universal. It might have a pathological tinge to it now, but it’s an evolutionary fact. No anxiety, no vigilance; no vigilance and the lion in the bushes catches you unawares, tears your head off, and rips the meat right off your ribs. All hail anxiety!

Also, I hope that whatever self-revelations exist in the book don’t exist for their own sake. That is, I hope they’re included because they say something significant about how our minds work and don’t work, about how our minds can become these feral, unhinged things.

Still, there’s a bridge too far, in my mind. I’ll write a book about anxiety, but I refuse to wear this shirt. I don’t want everyone to know.

5 Responses to Telling the World

  1. Abi says:

    Hi Dan, I cannot WAIT for your book to come out – you are absolutely doing the right thing. The world needs a book that outlines the horrors of anxiety and panic, but with a nice dose of humour thrown in so us neurotic tremblers don’t end up throwing the book down and breathing into a paper bag.

    But why must I wait so long?! I work in a similar industry, so think I’ll have to hassle the UK publicist for a proof, mwah hah.

    Any plans to do some events in the UK to tie in with publication? You could supply benzos and meditation music to entice us there..

    • Daniel Smith says:

      Abigail: The long lead time is calculated to maximize anxiety in my fellow sufferers. And it is working [throws hear back, cackles evilly] hahahahahahahahahahaha!!! As for my UK publicist, there isn’t one, yet, because there isn’t yet a UK publisher. Go tell editors to buy the thing. I’ll send you a bag of gourmet decaf coffee! Appreciatively, Dan.

  2. Abi says:

    Oh good God – I thought it was Simon and Schuster in the UK! This is truly horrible, heart-pounding news. I’ll see what I can find out (this suggests a level of power and influence I absolutely don’t have, but I can certainly burble about how good it looks – and how universally appealing and saleable – to anyone in the industry I can).

    PS. I LOVE that you’re using mass anticipatory anxiety as part of your publicity campaign – what an evil genius your monkey mind is!

  3. Abi says:

    PPS Someone (evil) recently told me that decaf coffee actually contains some caffeine – triggered instant ANXIETY CAT! face and much handwringing. Can this be true?!

    • Daniel Smith says:

      Alas, I believe it is true! But don’t let that stop you. Just have drugs on hand! Caffeine to lift you up, Xanax to bring you down. A totally unhealthy, arguably pathological pattern of behavior. I endorse it wholeheartedly.

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