What May Come

starsAs we rejoin our story, we find Betsy and Harry, the white gerbil who is Betsy’s Guide on her Quest to become a successful independent author / publisher, lying on their backs in the field of waving wheat that spreads across a portion of Betsy’s brain.  They are watching the sky overhead.  As they watch, stars form and splinter apart.  Suns grow and burst.  Dreams stir.  They have been here before.

For the last few weeks, Betsy has seemed to be moving forward on her Quest.  She has been running around like a chicken with her head cut off to get the business side of things going.  But Harry senses something is amiss.  Is it?  Is Betsy using sleight of hand so people think she is doing a lot when she is actually practicing her finely honed skills of procrastination and avoidance?  Let’s see…

 

*Betsy lays with her arms outstretched, fingers digging into the earth*  Why are we here?

You needed to come here again.  *Harry lays on his back with his paws folded at his chest*  *His tail is curled to cover his boy-gerbil bits, as is proper*

Why?  Oh!  I think that’s a super nova!  *Betsy points at the sky*

*Harry considers*  Yes, I believe that’s a very good idea going on there.  *Turns head to look at Betsy*  I don’t see a second draft for the book you’re working on.

Oh.  *Betsy props herself on an elbow to look down at Harry*  Well, you see, I’ve been doing a lot of work to get the business part up and running.  I have a business name now and a checking account and there’s some money there, and—

But no second draft.  Look!  *Harry points with a paw as a star shoots across the sky*  That’s a passing thought that might have burned brightly in a story, but it was a little too fleeting for you to capture.

*Betsy settles back*  You’re saying I’m not paying attention.   I’m not catching these thoughts when they pass by, I’m letting them burn out.

*Harry folds paws*  Are you?

No!  *Betsy turns head to glare at him*  I’m writing.  I’m working.  You know I am.  I’ve gotten a lot done on the book.

You’re also spending a lot of time watching Netflix.

So?  Aren’t I allowed to relax?  I have a lot on my plate.  Between my day job and caring for my mother and other things I’ve got a lot of freaking responsibility.  And didn’t I just tell you that I’ve gotten a lot done?

Yes.  *Harry’s large, dark eyes follow a comet as it zooms across the sky*

*Betsy crosses arms*  *Glares*  I’m allowed to relax.  I’m allowed to watch damned Netflix if I want to.  I’m allowed to read a book.  I can go to a movie.  I don’t have to work every single minute of every day.  I don’t have to live up to your expectations.

Of course not.  *Harry turns his head to look at Betsy*  Although you realize I’m just vocalizing the expectations you have of yourself.

Yeah, so what?  *Betsy scowls*  I let myself down all the time.  Who cares.

Ah.

What does that mean?  *Betsy sits up to glare down at Harry again*

*Harry sits up as well*  I didn’t say anything.  I made a sound.

Yeah, well it was a stupid sound.  *Betsy lies back down*

*Harry rolls to his feet*  *Jumps over on top of Betsy’s chest*  *Looks down at her*  I just want you to tell me what’s going on.

Nothing—

Don’t lie to me!  *Harry’s voice is sharp, deep beyond his size*  Not to me.  I live here, remember?  *taps Betsy’s forehead*

Which is just weird.  *When Harry doesn’t look away, Betsy turns her head*  Okay, so maybe I’ve been thinking about what happens if I…fail.

Fail?

Yeah, fail.  Don’t sell any books.  Don’t have any readers.  Or worse, have people read what I’ve written and laugh at me or make snide remarks behind my back or leave hurtful reviews.  Fail.

*Harry considers her*   Let’s say that you don’t publish the book.  Would you still write?

*Betsy frowns*  I guess.  I like to tell stories.

And when you tell them, when you write this blog and the newsletter you’re going to start, you feel like….  *Harry raises eyebrow meaningfully*

*Betsy chews lip*  I feel like I’m playing.  Like I’m inviting other people to come play with me in this world with these characters.  Almost like….*Betsy flounders for words*  Like a dollhouse.  But the dollhouse is real too.  *Shakes her head*  I’m not making any sense.

*Harry sits back on his haunches*  What happens if nobody accepts your invitation to play?  Or if they hate it if they do?

That’s the problem!  *Betsy flings her arms wide*  *Almost succeeds in dislodging Harry*  Then I fail!

What if they love it?  What if you become famous?

That scares me too!

*Harry’s little face is serious*  You can’t give other people that much power over you.

What does that mean?

If you are looking to other people’s reactions to determine whether or not you are a success, or happy with that success, then publishing might not be a good idea.

But I want to publish!  *Betsy sits up abruptly*  *Harry rolls into her lap*  Nobody will read it for sure if I don’t publish.  And what good is a story if nobody else hears it?  And people might like it.  *Betsy gestures at the sky*  It might as well have just stayed a galaxy inside my brain if I don’t publish.

*Harry smiles*  Then… we publish.

But—

When you shoveled snow today, you wondered whether or not taking that action would impact your whole life, didn’t you? *Harry clutches Betsy’s sweatshirt*  You wondered whether you were making a mistake and would end up hurting yourself and changing the rest of your life, or maybe even ending it.

Well, yeah.  The snow was really heavy and I was thinking about how I shoveled last year and fell and hurt my foot so badly it still hasn’t healed correctly.

But then what did you do?  *Harry’s little fists clench tighter*

*Betsy frowns*  I went out to shovel.

Why?

*Betsy shrugs*  Because I can’t live my life being afraid of what might happen.  I have to be careful and use common sense, but I can’t not shovel my walk just because I’m afraid of a possibility.

*Harry looks up at Betsy*  Yes.  Do you see?

*Betsy frowns*  Failure is a possibility.  And so is notoriety, and I’m scared of that too.  But if I don’t take the step forward, then I might as well not write?  Right?

Right.  *Harry jumps down onto the ground*  You don’t HAVE to write.  You don’t HAVE to do anything except be the best Betsy you can be, the best person, the best human being you are capable of being.   But for you, being the best human being you can be involves writing.  Now, you can certainly write and just stuff the stories in a drawer, but if you birth these ideas, if you give them form and substance with words, then you want other people to be able to read them – no matter how good the stories may or may not be.

*Betsy frowns*  So, you’re saying that I need the possibility of an audience.  And that to have that, I might have to face the possibility of failure or notoriety.  Just like to shovel my driveway I had to face the possibility I’d get hurt.

Exactly.  *Harry lays back and clasps his little paws behind his head* And you also need to get the second draft finished.

*Betsy lays back beside him*  *Watches the sky*  Okay.

 

To be continued…

 

Harry-3

 

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