After arriving in Toledo last night, my husband, mother-in-law, and I were sitting around the kitchen discussing a bizarre ladybug infestation, and somehow the conversation turned to the gnawing/scratching habits of their adorable little white dustmoppy dog named Skooter. He doesn’t actually look like a dustmop, because they groom him very well, but if he lived in the 70s and they let him grow out, he would.
Skooter doesn’t really get it when scratching or gnawing at himself is wrong, so they had to get him a cone.
Here we go:
Anyway, after my triumph over NaNoWriMo in the wee hours of the morning (I think I told you once that I only see 6 am when sneaking up on it from behind), I had a little mini-attack of chagrin, in which I gnashed my teeth thinking, “Molli from my writing group has 134,000 words and counting! I think Kana is kicking my arse too!”
And just like that, this was me:
Like this cat, all I felt was the burning shame of not doing more. I wanted to have 100,000 words too!
But then I realized that I work 45 hours a week. And each day this month, I have updated my blog here, no matter what was going on. I did that first before starting my NaNoWriting. I have said hello (and then some) to my husband every day. I have jealously eyeballed some trees I would like to climb without getting arrested.
And I realized that all those things I was saying to myself were basically like Skooter gnawing on his bum until it is so raw they have to cone him. My cone was imaginary, and it was made out of shame. It wasn’t protecting me from myself.
Have you ever felt that way, gentle viewers? Have you ever made yourself a Cone of Shame?
Today, I have shucked off my invisible Cone of Shame, written 1,408 words, and traded that cone in for something much better:
No more gnawing on ourselves, writers and gentle viewers. If you need a cone to make you stop, at least make it one that amplifies your lasers.