At a White Elephant gift exchange on Christmas Eve, I ended up with a little stack of magazines. Today, I was thumbing through them, one of which was a Reader’s Digest from November 2015. In it was a piece by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m not a particular fan of Elizabeth Gilbert–I tried both the book and movie of Eat, Pray, Love and disliked both. But she has wonderful things to say about writing and creativity. Plus the cover tag on the magazine said, “Be the Lobster,” which made me think of, “He’s your lobster!” from Friends. I could hear Phoebe in my head. Anyway.
In the piece, Gilbert relates a story of an acquaintance’s younger brother, who was an aspiring artist. From a chance encounter, the brother ended up invited to a very fancy party (in France–a Francy party?) that was a masquerade ball. We’re talking celebrities and royalty. Brother spent hours and hours on a wonderful lobster costume. He arrived at the party and discovered it was a themed costume ball-and the theme was medieval court.
Brother’s lobster costume was a little, shall we say, out of place. He wanted to disappear. To run for his rental car and head home. Instead, he walked (scrabbled? clawed?) onto the dance floor. A hush fell. The orchestra stopped playing. Everyone gathered around. Someone asked what he was?
He bowed and said, “I am the court lobster.”
Brother was the crustacean of the costume ball. He was so absurd and vulnerable that everyone embraced him. Here’s Gilbert’s takeaway:
“But you must stubbornly walk into that room, and you must hold your head high. Never apologize for it, never explain it away, never be ashamed of it….You were invited, you showed up, and you simply cannot do more than that. They might throw you out–then again, they might not. The ballroom is often more welcoming and supportive than you could ever imagine. You might end up dancing with royalty.”
Gilbert acknowledges that you might not, too. And that’s okay. What’s important is that you don’t walk out.
IF you are a writer, a brand new what-the-heck-am-I-doing writer or an I’m-not-sure-how-much-longer-I-can-keep-up-the-struggle-to-stay-in-the-business writer (or anywhere in between), do your thing. Write what you write. Know that it might or might not be publishable. Know that editors and readers might fight for a spot on your dance card or they might leave you crying in your punch. Either way, embrace who you are and what you create.
Be the lobster.