Almost out of my hands…

September 28, 2012

Now that Confessions is almost out of my hands—I’m still tinkering with the last of the copy-edits and obsessing over what head shot to use–there’s a tingling in my chest that I could identify as excitement which I think it is but mixed in is anxiety. I always feel anxious at this point, and that anxiety increases exponentially as we close in on production and finally publication which for Confessions will be November. It follows that my impulses would be squabbling at this time. While I’m writing I’m committed to the book and to its honesty, applauding myself periodically for my daring—always stretching boundaries in the interest of directness and truth—it’s the work that I want to write—but as I near the place where I hand it over to our designer, I am aware that I am giving over control. It is fast becoming permanent words and story on the page. I will soon have no more room or right to amend it, to soften the rough edges or pull in in places where I may in retrospect decide I’ve gone too far and revealed too much. In a short while the book will be its own truth and it will take its place in the world of words for better or for worse.

It would be wonderful if pure adrenaline in the form of unabashed confidence accompanied us on our way to this birth, but it doesn’t. Despite the fact that I love the book—I truly do—now I’m thinking about you and how you’ll like it. Maybe you won’t like Joan, the speaker, or maybe you won’t get the fractured diction and the small chapters. Maybe you’ll be stunned to know something about her that was better left unsaid.  It’s funny, when my poems come to print, I worry about the same two things–that you won’t get my form then either—though the form for poetry and prose is very different—and that you’ll learn something about me that is shameful. The fact that I’ve chosen to include both doesn’t seem to matter. I want to be myself and inventive but I want you to like me too. It’s my old battle with God and the nuns. I insist that I do it my way, but I need you to approve. Some of you will. Many of you will not. And that’s the risk we all take every time we step out into the world and allow ourselves to be inventive. So be it. I/we can’t have it both ways. So the nuns are still shaking their heads and I’m jumping off another cliff. We do it everyday—if we are creating. We win some; we lose some; I love it!


About Joan Cusack Handler

Joan Cusack Handler is a poet and memoirist, and a psychologist in clinical practice. Her poems have been widely published and have received awards from The Boston Review and five Pushcart nominations. More »

Get Joan's newsletter

Talk with Joan


Get Joan's newsletter