The limited feedback I have been getting from "Year of the Dog" has made me all a-bloom. The garden of my ego has blossomed to new splendor-- my work might actually be loved, appreciated and respected. Heck, I might even be a successful, well-known author/illustrator.
But, small things, like frost in the night, creep in. A patronizing message on a message board. A tepid review calling my book "comfortable." The disinterest of relatives because it's "kid's things." An innocent e-mail asking where to get my book as it is not stocked anywhere. These small things water the seeds of self-doubt, encouraging them to grow into dominating weeds.
The balance between pride and humbleness is hard to accomplish. As satisfaction fills me and the feeling of self-importance does not seem so unreasonable, the whispers begin. "Who do you think you are?" it scoffs, "You think you're all that? Please don't make me laugh."
For low self-esteem and insecurity has plagued me and pushed me. You'll never get published. You can't make a living on children's books. No one is going to like your books. You're never going to make it. Fear of failure made me want to prove that I could do what was doubted. Yet, the same impetus that pushed me to work harder is the same force that won't allow me to feel peace or pride with my endeavors.
Robert, of course, has been the great equalizer. Whenever the secret demons push me to dejection, he shines a light on them. "When are you going to be as proud of yourself as I am of you?" he says to me and the tears burn in my eyes. And, I realize that the demons are just rabbits sneaking into the garden. I'll probably never get rid of them, but I can't stop trying to grow flowers because they steal a bit of lettuce.