The Butterfly and The Lobster: On Being and Becoming

The Butterfly on a Gray Background

Today the theme of the online writing retreat with Deep Story Design writer and coach, April, was on ‘being’ and ‘becoming.’

These are the notes I took today from our retreat:

The butterfly, before it becomes one, its whole being dissolves inside its cocoon.
The lobster has to outgrow its shell, be in a state of utmost vulnerability, before the new shell hardens, becoming the lobster that it is.

Both are two different processes of growth, and part of that growth is the feeling of discomfort.


Check in:
Your state of BEING this year.
Your intentions of BECOMING.

Just for today: Just BE with the writing.
Ask your writing: What do you want to tell me?

Just BE with that chapter, the work you’re doing. Light a candle. Surround yourself with colorful pens. Make a cup of tea with your writing.

Today, after I checked in with April and vomited TMI stuff, including my hope to step more into my identity, James Clear-style, as a writer this year by signing up for more writing, carving out more writing time, having just signed up for a short story contest, writing daily in my blog that I hope to someday become a container for my memoir about finding my bliss with keto and bipolar disorder, D using keto for his cancer, our year full-time in a RV, and more while trying to fit that all in with my ghostwriting and copywriting for several clients. How I seem to procrastinate writing for my clients (probably not the best thing to admit here since I need to seriously search for more client gigs).  How I recently wrote three hours on my own personal writing, as if I were having an affair, sneaking away from the primary paid work to write in my memoir and blog. Then cheating on my novel revision by focusing on a short story contest, always my eyes set on something new and shiny, as if to rebel the work in front of me, always taking on a new lover.  I talked about my irrational fear and phobia around the writing, how hard it was to be with it for too long, how hard it was for me to finish. And those old twin friends of mine: procrastination and perfectionism.

Here’s what she said, basically:

Maybe you’re doing too much? The trap of “I am the writer,” of “I am not a writer yet but am going to become a writer” is that we get caught in the treadmill of improving who “I am…”

If we think that it’s about US, we get caught in the self-improvement loop. This trips us up with actually DOING the work…There’s this: Who we are … Am I enough?? There’s too much focus on the ‘I,’ ‘I,’ ‘I.’

Take YOURSELF out of the work.

Instead: Build your RELATIONSHIP with YOUR WRITING.


The ACTUAL PROJECT requires steps to take:
“Becoming” means to do things that make you feel uncomfortable.

Trust that the discomfort of being with your writing will become something, will transform into growth.

Instead, ask:
What stage is the work?

“Get out of your own way and just show up with the work. With love, if you can muster it.” — April Bosshard

What does it (your work) need to do?

Remember: Your work is a BEING. And you are in service of that being. GET OUT OF THE WAY. Ask your work: What do YOU need to do? (You would never ask your work, slapping it: “What’s wrong with you?”) Be with the work as a friend. Take yourself out of the equation.

I love this quote from April during our writing session to remind us to stretch our bodies from all that sitting, drinking some water.

Pause briefly in your ‘being with your writing.’ Your writing (as your friend, as a ‘being’ in its own right) needs your body to stay healthy and limber if it is to use you for a channel for its becoming. But you can tend to such needs fairly quickly and with purpose, the purpose of returning to the work with devotion and focus. What does the work need now? Here and Now…

I have to say that I truly believe in this, that my writing, my novel, needs my vessel to be healthy, in order to receive the download from my brain, the Universe, to be a channel that offers up words and stories, that it’s important for my mind and body to be healthy. Today is Day 12 of a nose-to-tail carnivore diet and the abstaining of wine and all alcohol. I’ve been naturally fasting and my mind has never been more clear, my energy higher than usual. My GKI is low, as is my fasting glucose. My ketones today was 1.4 mmol/L.

But back to writing.

What does my work — my novel, my friend — need now?
What do YOU (my novel) need?

What stage of becoming is my friend, my novel, in right now?

STAGE 1               STAGE 2                                 STAGE 3                       STAGE 4
Shitty Draft —> Preparing for revision —> Actually Revising –> Finishing/Polishing

STAGE 5           STAGE 6
Querying —-> Publishing

I realize I’m in Stage 2 right now, almost in the “revising” stage.

What does my novel need now?
It needs my attention. It needs me to not forget it.

What do YOU (novel) need to do? What are some small steps to get started?

Answer from my novel:
1. I (the novel) need your (Lily’s) eyes on the very next scene list. Just that very next one.
2. Read it to see what it’s about.
3. Summarize it and deposit summary into the container April created for Lily in the Google doc to use later to structure me (the novel) into three acts that make sense, 80K words with about 40 to 60 scenes.
4. Read the next one until done.
5. Don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it! Bring some inspiring or plot-specific and related music (like Depeche Mode) into our time together to enjoy, to immerse yourself in. Light up a candle so our time together is sacred. Make a cup of tea with me. Bring wonder and awe and curiosity and play into our relationship together. We’ve GOT this!

God, I’m so happy to have shown up today! I always get so much out of April’s once-a-month online writing retreats where I can write in my PJs from the comfort of my home. I left my chair today hopeful, knowing that I allowed myself to simply be. And that like the butterfly or the lobster, I will become the writer I say I am just by enjoying the present moment. Holding the writing lightly, not so rigidly. To simply show up for my novel — my friend. This year my novel is dissolving its being inside this almost stillborn cocoon to become a butterfly. My practice is go simply get out of the way in service of my friend. This friend who is oh-so-ready to finally take flight.

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