It's a familiar situation. In all aspects of life. But we do it to ourselves over and over again.
It started after having recorded footage for a new video on the weekend. I'd put in a bit of effort - I recorded myself from various angles playing the same song so that I could splice pieces together from each angle. To make a cool video. It's a bit of an epic to compile the video as you could imagine, but one of the key issues is that each time you play it you won't play it at exactly the same speed. One way around that is play to a beat, which makes my playing a bit stiff, the other way is to record a good clean audio track and compile the video carefully so that everything appears to synchronise. You generally will only vary in speed slightly, so you can make 10-15 seconds worth of video appear to synchronise with the audio.
So I had the footage, which was recorded outdoors so none of the audio was clean enough, I needed the audio track.
One night during the week I had about two hours free to record the audio. I sat down, set up the microphone and started playing. Take 1. Take 2. Take 3. Take 4. I wasn't liking any of them. Change approach - record smaller sections of the song until I get each one bit right at a time, and then piece it together later. I really dislike doing that, it is much better to get it all in one take. It sounds more natural and is a lot less audio editing.
Looking back I was actually playing it nicely, I was after perfection, so nice wasn't good enough. Because I had limited time, I put pressure on myself. Each take I could feel my arm/hand muscles starting to clamp up - I wasn't relaxed - and each take was getting faster and faster tempo. That generally happens to me when I'm not relaxed, I play faster. It's a shame, because I call that a beginners trait, I should know better. Still haven't got that beginners trait out of me after all these years.
And to top it all off, I am attacking the guitar. Digging right in, getting a huge sound. Sure, the guitar sounds full and crisp, but I know "it's not working."
"Whoa, it's like, music, man. You've gotta let it flow, relax, and like, let it come to you man." Perhaps I should have started the session with a tasty glass of liquid muscle relaxant.
And then, still playing too fast, too hard, in pieces rather than the full song, I cracked my index fingernail. Diagonally across, right down to the base. Cleaned it up with the clippers, basically nothing left. Picked up the guitar, that crisp sound I get with a bit of fingernail was reduced to a mellow, kinda dull tone.
"Well that sucks." I pack up guitar, it's all over. Nothing recorded. Feel tense and unsatisfied. It will take about two weeks to grow fingernail out again. I knew it wasn't working, but I put the pressure on myself to make it work. And then it didn't work, and worse, resulted in a a setback.
Another lesson learnt. One that I already knew. Learn it again!