Wow–what a short chapter. It’s actually probably a good thing for me, since right now, I’m swamped with end of the semester work. So it’ll be nice to just comment a bit on this chapter and leave it at that. I enjoyed depicting the different approaches to living in a new situation. I honestly think that a lot of it has to do with attitude. Meander has a “can do” attitude. He’s willing to try, and more importantly, he’s willing to fail. From my experience, when you’re too worried about being “cool” or not looking like a fool in front of other people, you’re much less likely to learn new things and master them.
This is something I’m always reminded of whenever I look at my son. He’s so full of life and free of inhibitions. If he wants to dance in public, he’ll dance. If he sees someone coming down the street that he wants to talk to, then he’ll talk to them. He’s not afraid to say words wrong–even though he has by no means mastered the language. He’s not afraid to mess things up. I tried to show this sort of attitude through Meander.
Of course, the difficulty with writing a book from a particular point of view is that everything that happens is filtered through that point of view. Thus, since Buttersby didn’t notice Meander trying to do things and failing at them, I couldn’t put that in. She’s so focused on herself and on her own failures that she can’t focus on anything else. All she sees when she looks at Meander is the end result: he fits in. (Though I admit that Meander is far more skilled at fitting in and learning new things than anyone I’ve ever known, my son included.)
I think I’m a lot like Buttersby in this situation. I like being good at things–I like the end result being in my possession. But I don’t like having to struggle through trial and error (and the risk of looking foolish in front of others). Take my writing as an example. I’m in a writing group with Brandon Sanderson, a friend who is–let’s face it–an amazing writer. He’s got book deals coming up left and right, he’s written well over two million words of stories, his books–even his drafts–come off looking like shining examples of fantasy. I am very happy for Brandon, and I’m very thankful to be in the same writing group with him. He offers fantastic critiques and is able to cut straight to the root of my struggles as a writer. But at the same time, I compare my writing to his and feel woefully lacking. Mentally, I know I don’t need to be where he is right now. I need practice and effort and trial and error to get better. But there are times that I fall into the Buttersby trap and just wallow in remorse and self-pity.
Unfortunately, it’s one thing to be able to write Buttersby out of her mess and have her learn how to overcome this problem, but it’s another to deal with it on my own. It’s something I’m working on, and I hope to always get better with it. And I think it’s important that we realize that most–if not all–people deal with this in one way or another. So here’s hoping we all can learn a lesson from Buttersby and Meander. Till next week!