Handle With Care

I walked into the most enticing antique shop in La Mesa, California, today. The window display pulled me in; Candlewick glassware and vibrant Fiesta dishes-transparent and dainty juxtaposed with bold, hearty ceramics.  

So like me; so like most of us. . .

In her recent posting on Write at Your Own Risk, the unofficial Vermont College of Fine Arts Faculty blog, Coe Booth discusses her novel-in-progress when it’s at what she calls “The Fragile Stage.”  When, as she describes it, “We're excited about our ideas, but we haven't hit that stage in the writing process where we can see the path to the end.”

Anyone who’s ever painted a picture; planted a garden; rearranged a room; cooked a meal, moved. . .  has been there. You know: that time when you can so clearly picture exactly what you want the end result to be, but. . .  But right then, with the necessary ingredients unpacked, scattered, detritus here and there, parts missing,  it looks like a mess, garbage, hodge-podge, heap of junk?

Oh yeah…THAT “Fragile Stage.”

When a project is in The Fragile Stage, Booth notes, our “own self-talk can make ‘That's a good idea!’ into ‘Ugh, that sucks’ so fast your head doesn't have time to spin.” Self-talk makes or breaks you.

Lured by the Candlewick and Fiesta ware in the window, I stepped into the Antique Shop with—no surprise to anyone who knows me—one paw already on my wallet. I was sure I’d find that something I needed to buy waiting inside. A sign with big, black on white bold lettering posted just inside the door set my Candlewick Core quaking:

YOU CHIP IT, YOU BUY IT!

What to do?  If I start browsing, I risk chipping something; if I don't browse I won't find the treasure; I'll miss out on finding my prize; I've worked hard all week, I so deserve a prize, but. . .

I’ve had to buy something I broke before—most recently a jade good-luck talisman in a Bali Shop, which the saleslady wrapped up and gave me, saying I could “glue it together.” (Yeah right, as if gluing it back together will put the good luck jube-jube back inside.)

As Booth says: “Listen to your self-talk.”

Negative self-talk “can stop us before we put word on the page,” or plant in the ground, paint on the brush, fork in the drawer or foot through the door.

Positive self-talk “keep us motivated as we find our way…”

And, if your inner-critic is shouting too loudly, stifle it the way the guy did in the song, Make up your own little sign:

FRAGILE STAGE IN PROGRESS

HANDLE WITH CARE

Post your sign in a prominent spot, tune your inner-station to a happy song and get after it!

Read Coe Booth’s May 14, 2012 blog posting, "The Fragile Stage" : http://writeatyourownrisk.posterous.com/the-fragile-stage