A swallow swooped so low that it almost flew into my head. Now, any other day, any other time, I’d be buoyed by a moment like that. I was wobbling though, standing next to my car, contemplating what the hell I’d done and what it would mean from this day forth. I needed to walk. I could feel my chest tightening and my shoulders tensing and the first sob fell in weighted relief. Oblivious to the rain, I walked out onto the heath, where the yellow gorse had been taken over by lush green growth, I only know this from a photo though, as everything seemed so dark and solemn under a heavy sky.

I walked out to where the bushes rise in a line, marching across the heath. The rain increased in ferocity and for no apparent reason, so did my tears. It flooded out of me, this deluge of emotions, both complex and confused. I felt broken for a brief while, unable to work out what was going on inside my mind. Some of it felt like grief – the grief of letting the book fly into the world, the grief of how much of myself I’ve given to the book and the whole process of making it. Grief.

Perhaps it wasn’t grief though, as there were lots of other feelings mixed in. Self-loathing at myself for pouring so much into the book, for what? Loss – the loss of such a huge element of my life. The loss of reasoning as to why I wrote it, for good. A brooding disbelief that my words would never go any good and help others. Haunting me. Resentment, at those I had expected or maybe just assumed, would support the book on publication. That then began to bring up the looming presence of imposter syndrome yet again and the biting reality that I’ll always be peripheral to a club I clearly can’t be a member of.

The feelings were worsening and kept rolling between relief or release and to my lowest ebb. I was beginning to feel desperate and despondent. Alone. The darkest thoughts began to gather ‘but you’re a father now, you can’t think like this.’ More confusion and hatred. More tears. I had to speak to someone, luckily someone was there for me to message and then another person who I wholly trust, was around if I needed to physically speak to someone – which I did.

Everyone kept wishing me a happy publication day and hoped that I would enjoy it. As I regularly write on here, I’m not a writer, I can’t commit to the lifestyle that many writers seem to have. I can’t handle social media. I absorb criticism like an acid-filed sponge. I wobble and I’m really bloody honest about it, because I want people who are also struggling to realise they are not alone and that these supposedly sugarcoated and wondrous occasions, can be hellish for some of us.

So yeah – happy publication day to me.

(This was written the day after publication day, but I held off sharing. I really wanted to share my experience with you, so here it is)

8 thoughts on “Unhappy publication day – a bite of reality

  1. Hi Joe. Life is never what it seems it should be. It’s like being on a roller coaster, not that I’ve been on one, cause I hate the thought of the stomach lurching into my throat! Just like life itself does that to us day in and day out, as if the good times are not for the likes of people like us who suffer this debilitating feeling of worthlessness. But out of all that you wrote above I have a pure feeling of understanding and compassion. Not to feel sad for you, but in some ways happiness that you will come to realise that the person you set out in your first awesome book will help others to somehow recognise the same hole we all seem to creep into throughout our daily lives. You have travelled a long way from the beginnings on that book and will no doubt return there at times. You are an astonishing person to come all this way and I know it will help and guide many to realise there is a way to find peace within ourselves and that it’s an ongoing task that prove we are human. Keep strong Joe. Keep believing and be true to yourself …. always. Take care my friend.

    I use this saying a lot but don’t know where it comes:-
    “Never let your past experiences harm your future. Your past can’t be altered and your future doesn’t deserve the punishment.” ~ Anonymous

    Easier said than done, but true all the same. Hope it gives food for thought 🙂


  2. Wow Joe,
    Meant to be. I am preparing to take a ‘blogger’s break’ & am in the process of looking through the blogs I follow and here you are.
    I can imagine all those emotions you experienced on completing your book.
    Will take a peek, well done 🦅👍


  3. I’m sorry publication made you feel this way, but you should be congratulated on the book and for being open about your mental health.

    Reading Bird Therapy inspired me to make more of an effort with my own bird watching and whilst i’ve yet to decide on my ‘patch’ I purchased a new pair of binoculars in anticipation.

    When I went to try them out on Wednesday morning I had a great experience. I met two gents who I had a lovely chat with (one of them even let me try out his zoom binoculars) and learnt of several other places to visit. I then spent goodness knows how long watching a Black-necked Grebe feeding it’s chick and the lift in mood I got from the day is still with me and will get me through what is going to be a tough weekend.

    So here’s one person your book has already made an impact on and I can’t believe i’ll be the only one.


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