I was at the Great Ducking Out last week, projectizing a project.*

* A project of the kind one avoids because it is so very dear to one’s heart..

And about twenty minutes in, bam! I hit the first wall.

Well, I thought it was a wall.

But then when I got closer, it turned out to be a conglomeration of fuzzball monsters, all wringing their hands and grumbling in unison.

I couldn’t tell what they were grumbling about — just chaotic hubbub. A mob of worry.

So I stopped to listen. Grumble thrum grumble thrum don’t do it don’t do it.

Confronting the Grumble Thrum Collective.

Me: Whoah. Hey, conglomeration of monsters. What’s going on, guys? Can I help?
Monsters: We’re not monsters! We’re editors!

Me: Oh, is that right? Well, I don’t mind a little red pen here and there, but that sounded like a lot of grumble-thrumming. What’s the deal?
Monsters: Hrmmmmmmmmmm.

Me: Oh? Really? You don’t want to talk about it?
Monsters: No, we totally want to talk about it. We just don’t know where to start.

Finding out what is true.

Me: Nu?
Monsters: Okay. It’s kind of like this:

If you write this, you will be different.

Me: Yes, that’s true. In one sense, it is true. Writing this will change me. Of course I will also still be me. A stronger me who has more certainty about this. But me.
Monsters: That’s good. We like the idea of a more confident and happy you.

Me: You do?!
Monsters: Yes, but we don’t want confident to turn into cheeseball. Stupid writerly things. Don’t do them. Just be yourself. No cutesy titles. Make it more like you.

Me: Okay, that’s legitimate. What else?
Monsters: You are still going to be kind, right? But you’re also going to be snarky and not too kind, right?

And getting to the fear.

Me: Of course. That’s a given.
Monsters: So you are kind and confident and sometimes funny-mean. But not cheesy and not predictable and not boring.

Me: Yes. I am committing to that.
Monsters: Do you want to know what we are really afraid of?

Me: Uh, yes. Of course I do.
Monsters: You are REALLY SPECIAL. But you’re also a total kook wackopants. Is the world ready for that? What if they stifle you? Or mock you? We are having outsider complex!!!!

Me: You’re right. I am rather special. And you are right that some people won’t get it. And that some people will have no context for it. And that maybe some of my goofiness will get toned down.

But all of those things are okay. This new project will be different and special and I can do it. So let me try. Let’s see what happens.

Monsters: We fear rejection! We fear what will happen to you. What if you get rejected and shut down and then you never try again?

Deluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuusional!

Me: There’s really no way that can happen.
Monsters: You’re deluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuusional!

Me: Listen. The project we are currently projectizing is going out to people who have already vocally expressed interest in it.
Monsters: If they change their mind?

Me: Many people are interested. This is doable. And it’s important. And anyway, the me who shuts down isn’t here anymore. She willingly chose to retire and live in a safe room, remember?

I am not going to shut myself down. But I appreciate that you want me to be safe. That’s very sweet of you.

Monsters: That’s all we care about.

Me: I know, guys.
Monsters: So can we have a Letter of Reassurance?

The Letter of Reassurance.

Me: I don’t know. Possibly. What would it say?
Monsters: It would say grumble thrum grumble thrum.

Me: Wait, what?
Monsters: It would say:

DEAR MONSTERS, EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY. WE’RE DOING THIS IN A SUPER SECRET NO-REJECTION WAY AND BEING SAFE. THE END.

Me: Seriously? That would work? You’re kidding.
Monsters: That’s what it should say.

Me: Okay then, let’s get out the magic markers. Anything else?
Monsters: Helper mice. You need helper mice. And metaphor mouse. And your friends. And a new chair. And yoga. And nothing that makes you itchy.

And then I agreed and they all scurried off, and I went back to working on my thing.

Of course, we still weren’t done.

This was the first of many monster conversations over the course of the Rally (Rally!).

Those conversations had negotiators and also (for the most part) made more sense. But I think this one was the most entertaining.

And yes, I’m pretty sure that the Grumble Thrum Collective is just one guy.

And … comment zen in the comment blanket fort for today.

All this talking to monsters is hard. It just is.

I have an advantage here, which is years of practice. This stuff takes time. Sometimes they won’t play. Sometimes they are so mean that we can’t bear to be around them (which is why we need negotiators and/or the coloring book).

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We take responsibility for our stuff.

It’s a process, and you can’t get it wrong because it’s all a giant experiment. You do what’s needed for you to feel safe, you add stuff to the Book of You, you take notes.

Kisses to the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers and everyone who reads.