Note to self: stop working in book publishing


Today is now a write-off. After my weekly shift at the library this morning I was going to use this afternoon to plan next week’s tutorial and a talk on supporting autistic university students I’m hoping to do next year.

Instead I got an email from a client.

Sometimes books refuse to die. Sometimes authors like to berate me for not being perfect. I wish I could be a perfect copy-editor. But I’m not. No one is. In fact, that’s why proofreaders exist. Because no human is perfect.

And I don’t know why but physicist authors always seem to have a problem with me, while most programming authors love me – to the extent of singing my praises on books I didn’t even work on.

Why do physicists hate me? At this point it really feels like they all hate me without exception. I’m not good enough to do a PhD with them even if I can publish peer-reviewed papers all on my own and I’m certainly not good enough to edit their damn books to a level they’re happy with. I’m literally never going to be good enough for any of them.

So my plans went out the window and my anxiety spiked and I knew a meltdown was rumbling. My husband now works from home and has endless conference calls with important people and we have new neighbours I didn’t want to freak out – so I left the house and headed for the field behind it.

Meltdown over, I’m bawling my heart out walking home. At some point I must have started hyperventilating because all of a sudden I’m having a panic attack. I’m standing there on a country road and I can’t breathe and I feel like I’m going to die and no one I know or love is anywhere near me and I can’t phone for my husband to come rescue me, because I was in such a hurry to escape the house before my meltdown I didn’t bring it.

Fortunately panic attacks just feel like they’re fatal and I eventually recovered. But I freaked out a couple of the village residents who were driving/jogging past and were concerned that I was suffering from anaphylaxis/asthma attack/some other disorder that makes you unable to breathe and would require an ambulance immediately.

I am now exhausted and no work will be done today. And tomorrow will be hard too, because a meltdown followed by a panic attack saps all your strength for several days.

The good thing about all this? I keep telling myself: Remember how you feel right now the next time someone offers you a book project that you think you’d like to work on. It never works out well for you.


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