Head Above Water

When last we left Betsy, she had just sent her most recent book off to the editor and first readers for editing and first reading, respectively.  For those of you who care, this means Betsy’s scheduling and timing are for crap, since those tasks really should be done in order, as opposed to simultaneously.  Which means Betsy will have a heck of a mess on her hands when she tries to sort it all out later.

But is that not the story of Betsy’s life?

Yes. Yes, it is.

In addition to the whole writing thing, and the delays, and the way Betsy is now rushing, rushing, rushing to finish things she should have finished months ago, other stressful incidents occur and keep occurring.

This, too, is part of life, although in that case it is not unique to Betsy’s.

It still can be a little overwhelming, though.

As we open this post, we see the Muse, strolling gracefully through a sunlit meadow towards a deep lake in the center of Betsy’s mind.  Sometimes the waters of the lake are placid, but today they are choppy, and we can soon see why.  Betsy is out in the lake, her arms and legs churning wildly in the water as she struggles to stay afloat.

What in the world is going on now?  Let’s see…


*Muse walks up the edge of the lake* *Considers Betsy from the shore*  *Ducks to avoid wildly splashing water*  Why are you flailing?

*Betsy churns arms and legs*  *Struggles to stay afloat*  I’m just trying to keep my head above water.


Why?  Why?  *Betsy flails* Because so much is going on!

*Muse settles on the shore a safe distance away* Like what?

You know.  Other people are reading my book.  And then I’ll have to do all of the work to clean it up.  And then I’ll have to publish it.  And then more people will read it!  There’s so much work to do, so much time to spend, and who knows whether it will all work out?  Who knows if I’ll be able to meet my deadline this time when I’ve missed so many of them before?  Who knows what other people are going to think?  Who knows what they’re going to say? *Betsy splashes*

*Muse draws up her legs under her long, flowing skirt and rests her chin on her knees*   Then why publish?  You certainly don’t have to.

Because if I don’t publish, the book won’t be completely done.  What’s the point of telling a story if you don’t share it with anyone else?

Then why splash?

Because it’s not perfect!  It will never be perfect!  I can’t make it perfect!  I’m screwing it all up!  *Betsy flails and churns*

*Muse considers her*  I’m pretty sure these sorts of things aren’t supposed to be perfect.

What if I’m a failure?  What if I’ve wasted my time?  What if I’m wasting my life? *splash, splash, splash*

Do you really feel that way?

Yes!  *Betsy splashes*  *Flailing slows*  No.  I guess I don’t really feel that way.

Well, that’s something anyway.

Maybe I’m afraid.

Maybe you are.  *Muse nods agreeably*

But that makes me flail even more because I don’t want the fear to win because the fear is stupid.  So I’m trying to push myself through.

*Muse tilts her head*  I can’t help but notice that at the moment you’re flailing, not pushing.  And the stress isn’t doing your blood sugar numbers any favors.

I know, I know.  But there have been a lot of reasons for stress lately.

*a floofy orange cat comes to sit next to the Muse on the shore* *watches Betsy with big green eyes*

And I  know if I can just push through this, push through the fear, push through the doubt, push through everything and keep on going, I’ll have another book done and it will be its own thing and I’ll be working on the next and I won’t be as stressed.  So I keep pushing.

True.  *Muse pets the cat*  On the other hand, is there any point to flailing around now?  If you already know it will be all right later, if you know you’re going to push through the publication process and the book will be out and some people will like it and some people will not like it and most people won’t give a damn about it one way or the other, is there any reason why you should get yourself all worked up splashing around in the lake and churning up the water?

No.  But the water is so deep right now that I feel like I have to.

Or you could, you know, just stop and see what happens.

I can’t stop!  I’ll drown!  You have to rescue me! *Betsy flails some more*

I’m kind of thinking this one’s on you.

I’m feeling overwhelmed.

*Muse shrugs*  How about you just try stopping and see what happens.

Just like that?

At least try standing up.

My feet can’t touch the bottom!  They can’t touch the bottom!  I’m going under!

Sure about that?

Why, yes, of course I’m—  *Betsy’s eyes widen*  Wait, what?  *She stands*  *The water in the lake laps back and forth for a moment, then settles around her ankles*  Huh.

Just remember—sometimes the lake seems a little deeper than it actually is.  Now, how about we go back to work on the new novella?  And Harry’s waiting to talk to you about some publishing things.

Oh.  Okay.  *Betsy walks to shore* *pets the cat*  *follows Muse back across the meadow*


To be continued…




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