Tuesday, March 8, 2011

little fish, big fish

I'm beginning to understand what a little fish feels like swimming in a tank of big fishes. In my monthly writer's group, I can see myself as a little fish hugging the side of a rock and glancing sideways with my beady little fish eyes at the group of "big" writers swimming gracefully in and out, up and down and all around the tank in formation. I watch in wonder. How do they know the rules of the tank? How do they seem to know the way to navigate all the nooks and crannies, speak the lingo, make the necessary connections? I see my reflection in the tank wall and shrink into my surroundings, preferring to remain low profile.

I confess, I'm a fish who doesn't like to swim with the big fish until I know how to do it well. I'm not too good at faking it, though sometimes I wish I were. I fight perfectionism in that regard, coaxing myself to swim out to join the group without knowing the drill, without knowing if I can keep up with them. The tricky part is, of course, that I know I won't learn to swim with the big fish merely through observation. Osmosis won't work for me. I need to get up the guts to just get out there and risk looking small in comparison. Because really, if anyone is comparing it is probably me, and it need not matter to me unless I choose to let it.

At every gathering of this group, members are invited to come up front and share a celebration or "redirection," generally having to do with some piece of writing or manuscript that has been submitted for publication, or an already published piece that the member is trying to market and promote. Some members get up and share small things, and those are the people I can relate to. Still, I am always conscious of the fact that I have never submitted anything for publication. The whole process is a blur to me, both intimidating and mysterious, like some foreign language or code. So I sit back and watch and listen and politely clap, wondering if that could ever be me.

Last night, however, I contemplated going up. I had a fledgling moment of confidence that I didn't seize. At least not that night. But I'm thinking about going up next time, because I do have a celebration I can share: I'm finally transitioning from talking about writing to doing it. I want to share about the idea God gave me, beautiful rubbish, and what that means to me. I may not have a book out of it - yet. I think I just might someday, though, if I have the guts to risk failure.

I'm working up the courage to jump in behind those bigger fish and swim my little heart out. It's the only way.

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