I seem to spend much of my time feeling embarrassed.
You see, I know I'm a chatterbox, a font of information, a source of...stuff. I can never decide if I'm contributing to the conversation or hogging the stage when I talk in a class or group. I'm never sure if someone is interested in what I say or politely tolerant.
I trip on a chair and bang my arm. I open my Diet Pepsi and the escaping carbonation hisses like a cow fart during the lecture. I am late for an appointment and have to reschedule.
I look at my writing and go back and forth, indecisive cat, from "this is good" to "this is drivel". I look forward to and fear discussing my work. Once I'm there, once I'm in the discussion, either my fears are confirmed or disproved, and I'm fine. At least I feel fine.
When I talk, I hear this confident voice, level and secure. In between, I find I'm sitting with my hands across my mouth. The swings are dizzying. It is like my confidence comes in waves, and when the water ebbs, I'm like some little shore creature scuttling under the sand for security until the next flood gives me a few moments of freedom.
Events are few, actually. The readings are interesting, I've managed to work a few pieces with another attendee, and I'm reading this afternoon. It's no problem READING a piece to a (small) audience, and hearing critique is no problem. The problem arises in between such events, when it's just me and my demon horde. The yowls and the sulpherous smell sucks my courage away. It gets steadily harder to tell those demons to fuck off.
UPDATE: Just finished my first story conference. Wow. I don't feel sick at all. Oh, I'm a little dissapointed in myself because I didn't see all this stuff I need to do, (demons who insist I be perfect talking there) but I know perfectly well that I need a reader, and a damn good reader, to get me to the level of literary fiction at which I aim. It was good, it was useful. Apparently even published authors need this kind of stuff. I am in awe. I want a nap and a pop-tart.