Remember this guy?
Yeah. Darkspume. Gnome of Despair (who plays the bagpipes of Dooooooom). He's my personal gnome. I spend my life trying to slay him. Maegan's got Fangxiety. Russo's got BadKarma (dudette REALLY has bad karma, bless her). I've got Darkspume.
Self-doubt (which I believe is one place from which despair comes) is a bugger. It creeps in, sometimes silently, sometimes screaming and screeching its bagpipes so loudly you can't hear yourself think, and you freeze up, completely unable to produce.
I've spent the last three months like that with my book. Stupid little Scottish gnome keeps whispering in my ear "Ye're goin' to fail, lassie. Look at that weak plot. Look at your wee protagonist; couldn't lift a haggis and throw it if her life depended on it. And yer pacing? Sorry. Fell asleep. Wha' were we talkin' abou'?"
And then I realized something: A) I am not a goddess. I'm just a regular person. I don't have to be perfect and it's okay for me to make mistakes. If my book is great, WOOHOO! But if not, WOOHOO! I WROTE A WHOLE BOOK ALL BY MYSELF.
2) It ain't all about me. No seriously. It ain't. I know. Shocking. But it really isn't. ain't. I noticed that when I'm freaking out and feeling all despair-y and lack of self-esteem-y, that the main person I'm focusing on is . . . me. Whereas, the minute I take my focus off of me and think about my reader, my husband, my children, my friends, voilá! Scary despairy feelings magically disappear.
To put a finer point on it: when I perform--whether it's singing or acting--if I panic over my mistakes, or worry I won't do well enough, my audience feels it and starts getting nervous for me. Then we're ALL stressed-out, and can't pull out of it. (I have a story to tell you about this. Next time.)
However, if I totally remember that I am up there for them, that I am not performing so my audience can look at me and say: "O Great Goddess Janiel, Queen of the Chords and Tremulous Warblings. We are Unworthy! You are a Marvel!"--but rather to bring happiness, or relief, or diversion to them, that's when despair and self-doubt fly. And my mistakes don't matter. I can joke, and my audience laughs, and we're all friends, and everyone is happy. It's the THEM that matters in all that I do. And that's what makes Darkspume pack up his sad, worn out little bagpipes and leave.
So, stomp your feet, little Darkspume-y man. I ain't listening. I'm going to go have fun with my friends, and not worry about a thing.
Just like John Legend. This is for you, my peeps--