Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fear

"I'd ask for a penny, but I'm afraid I have nowhere to put it." I shaded my eyes with my hand and squinted into the sun. The butterfly floated in front of me, the bright morning light glinting off his brilliant blue wings. I slowed and held out my hand. He landed in it and waited expectantly while I strolled under a shade tree.

"I think you'd get a lot more than a penny," I said, trying to keep humor in my voice. The butterfly twitched his antennae at me.

"What troubles you?"

Biting my tongue, I took a deep breath. It felt like steel bands had been welded across my chest. My mind was racing and the words tumbled onto my tongue in a emotional frenzy. "I'm worried that I'll fail. I'm worried that I've built this up and gotten so overexcited and gone to all this trouble and I'll have nothing to show for it. What if I get branded a no-good hack for independent publishing? What if no one takes any interest? What if I pay all that money for Web site design and five people visit? What if..."

"What if you let fear control your life?" the butterfly interrupted, sternly pointing a tiny black foot at me. "You are your own worst enemy and your only downfall. You always have been."

"I know," I muttered, averting my eyes from his piercing gaze. "But I can't help it. A few days ago I was so excited and I believed...truly believed. I know I can do this, I've got the feeling in my gut that I've never had. But I can't control who picks up the book. I can't control who likes it. I can't control its success."

"As well you shouldn't!" the butterfly admonished me, crawling up my arm with delicate tiny steps. "If you had control, it would be forced. You are an artist, with words as your medium. Your purpose is to create, not to control."

"But what"--

"There will always be whats and maybes and unseen possibilitiess," the butterfly interrupted, stepping onto my shoulder. His wings brushed my hair. "But that's not what's important. You are doing what you love and doing what you need to do. Not what you should do, what you need to do. That's who you are. That's what you do. You are a writer. If nothing comes of it, you're a better person for doing it. Without your writing, where would you be?"

"But what about the industry"--

"The industry is a collection of nitwits and scared people trying to control what everyone reads," the butterfly reminding me, entwining my golden hair around it's icy blue wings. "It's about money. You write stories. It's what you do."

Huffing out my breath in a long sigh, I sulked as he nestled on my shoulder.

"I'm just so overwhelmed sometimes," I muttered. "I feel like everyone is dedicated to one purpose. Like cooking or sewing or art. I'm just a big mix of them. I feel like there's a million things to do and no time to do them in. And I think I confuse people. I don't have a typical writer blog, I don't have a typical food blog, I don't have a typical artist blog"--

"Because you're not normal!" the butterfly teased, flicking me with his wings. "It doesn't take a genius to see that."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "Oh get over it," he said in an exasperated tone. "Quit making excuses for yourself. You tell stories. You like food. You do scrapbooks. You like dancing and you like making collage picture frames. Why limit yourself to one thing? Why try to define yourself? If you hate boxes and labels so much, why are you trying to shove yourself in one? You spent years trying to be and do everything. It's only now that you're writing that you've found something. Why are you being so flighty?"

For a moment, I was silent. "You've got a point," I said finally. The butterfly grinned and stepped closer, gently tickling my chin.

"You can always learn new things or rediscover old talents," the butterfly murmured. "But if you wanted to do them, you would have already. You can get excited about new things without committing to them. Just like you would have done those bellydancing classes Ben bought you last birthday. I don't recall you ever stepping foot in a studio."

I grinned wryly. "I guess I've got a one-track mind, don't I?"

"A single focus, yes," the butterfly corrected. "One-track, no. You have way too many stories dancing in your head for that. Speaking of which, who is Miss Pickles' friend?"

I threw back my head and laughed. Giggling so hard tears ran down my cheeks, I waved goodbye and headed for the door to my office building.

"This isn't funny!" the butterfly shouted. "I listen to you whine and mope and act all crazy and you won't even answer a simple question? Do you know what's it's like to be in agony like this? You aren't just crazy and weird, you're mean!"

I paused, placing my hand on the door handle. "You'll find out soon," I promised, wiping the tears from my cheeks.

"How soon?" the butterfly demanded.

"Tomorrow," I promised.

"Fine," the butterfly grunted, looking annoyed. He perched on a tree branch and twitched his wings back and forth. "I'll wait."

"Thank you for the advice," I said, smiling to let him know I'm sincere. "I do appreciate it."

The butterfly flicked his hands at me. "I'm waiting," he reminded me, a smile tugging at the corners of his face.

Grinning, I stepped inside to the cool air. Ignoring the phone calls and e-mails and work duties, I sat down and placed my hands on the keyboard.

Mason had never seen a creature like it...I typed.

For the butterfly was right.

I had another story to tell.

P.S. Scroll down to Wednesday's post and vote for the Culinary Artist Appreciation Day!

P.P.S. Check out Tuesday's Miss Pickles so you'll be caught up for Friday's edition!

6 comments:

Marjie said...

Like you, I feel as though my blog has no "theme". Cooking. Sewing. Dog. Homeschool. Weather. Whatever else I feel like doing. That's OK, we can be two oddballs in the whole universe. And I'm wondering if the lawyer is going to attack Miss Pickles for child endangerment.

Anonymous said...

That is one smart butterfly! Im sure everyone could use a little blue-winged friend like him every now and again. You'll do fine ducky...just stay away from those boxes!

noble pig said...

The butterfly is a wise friend, we all need a friend like that around.

Marie said...

Listen to the butterfly my sweet Duckie! Here are some more wise words from a friend who cares and believes totally in you!

To try is to risk failure. But risk must be taken, as the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing. If you don't risk anything . . . you risk even more. As Will Rogers once wisely said . . . "Go out on the limb -- that's where all the fruit is!"

Love you my friend. Have a great day and a wonderful weekend. Dare I hope we will have the chance for a nice chat??? Sure, hope springs eternal after all!!

Bunny said...

Honey your perfect just the way you are, and so is your blog!

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