Beautiful Butterflys

“Shut up, shiny new idea! I *need* to finish the older project first.”

That was a facebook status by Michael Thomas, one of my writing friends. It nicely sums up one of the basic problems of writing, at least for me. The beautiful butterfly problem.

See, when a new idea shows up, it is a beautiful butterfly. It hovers there, just out of reach, shiny, amazing, perfect. Whatever piece of crap I’m working on at the moment immediately pales in comparison. This new thing is so much better- it will win awards, bring fame and fortune, and editors will battle with rusty spoons to buy it. So even though I know I should ignore it, know I should finish what I’m currently in the middle of, I sometimes just have to reach out for it…

Reach, and it dances away. Reach again, and again it moves. Lunge this time, and my fingers brush against it, and there goes one of the antennae, snapped off, but that’s okay, I can fix that. If I can just grab the damn thing. So grab I do, and now I’ve snatched it from the air, and the wings are crumpling, but I’ve got it.

Got it tight between my fingers, where it’s fluttering, struggling, and the color is dashing off against my fingers, and I slam it down desperately onto the page to pin it into place with a few pithy phrases. Which of course just squishes the thing, and now it’s bleeding ichor everywhere, and I can’t see why the hell I thought it was beautiful to begin with. It’s stupid and ugly and no one will like it or buy it, and I hate it and… and… what’s that? In the air? Something so bright. A new idea, clean and shiny and perfect. Like a beautiful butterfly…

Writing is so easy, up until you actually start to write.

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