Like a mean girl in the locker room before gym class, she attacks without warning. Her name is Cheryl, AKA the feeling of holy shit, what the hell are you doing, something will go wrong, something must go wrong, there’s no way this can work, AKA, the name I gave my anxiety.

Most days I evade her easily. Some days I turn on the radio and dance around my kitchen like an idiot until I scare that nagging witch away.

I’m 40 days from publishing my novel (not that I’m counting), and everything is going well. The final proofs are approved. First copies are on their way to me. I’ve scheduled the book launch event at The Briar Patch, a local inde bookstore. In short, my heart’s desire is finally coming true. I am publishing my novel!

Most of the time, I’m excited. I talk about the book with almost literally everyone I meet. Even though I’m a writer, I don’t really have words to describe my level of excitement here. Think: five year old standing in a candy store gets told she’s going to Disney and by the way we got you a unicorn…and a puppy.

But there are times, oh there are times, when the anxiety hits.

“What the hell are you doing?” The Cheryl asks. “Do you know how vulnerable we’re going to be? Do you even realize everything that could go wrong here? What if nobody buys your book…comes to the signing…gives a shit about you and your stupid scribbles? What if you make a fool out of yourself?”

Cheryl is always lurking, ready to pounce when something good happens. When the host of TV show pencils me into his schedule, Cheryl says, “You’ve never been on TV, you won’t know what to say.”

A radio host offers to put me on the air. Cheryl says, “Radio is even worse, at least on TV you can smile, what are you going to do on the radio? Sing “I’m A Little Teapot?””

While, I talk to my tax accountant about what happens when the book makes a profit, Cheryl’s rolling on the floor laughing.

But I know Cheryl is full of shit. She’s like that bully in elementary school—scared out of her mind and lashing out at anyone who comes close. If I ignore her, she’ll eventually shut up.

But when I look close, I realize that Cheryl is just a scared little girl in pigtails. She’s never been here before, she doesn’t know where her mom is, and she’s worried the other kids will be mean to her.

It’s up to me to prove to her that we’re safe here. Mom, and everyone else who loves us is right there cheering us on, and the other kids can’t wait to see what we’ll bring for show and tell.

40 days ’til the book launches, and I think Cheryl and I are finally reaching an understanding.

Do you have a Cheryl? What do you do when she starts acting up?