Thursday, January 19, 2006

New Things #18 and #19: New writing group, new word

You know that anxious, fluttery, butterfly feeling when you're about to start something new? A new job, or a new school, or (if you're a geek, and you might be, because I know at least half of my blog readers are geeks) a new game of Dungeons and Dragons with new players? You know that feeling of...I was going to say 'dread in the pit of your stomach,' but dread isn't really the right word. Dread is too negative, too dire, too sci-fi. No, the word I'm looking for would be used to describe something that feels like 'excited fear.' Is there even a word for the feeling I'm trying to describe? Does the word even exist? Do you even know what I'm talking about? That feeling of being both 'excited' and 'afraid' at the same time? Is there a word that describes that? A word that describes that feeling of "Will they like me? Will I fit in?" That feeling of "this is gonna rock if it doesn't suck, right?" That feeling of "I don't know how to match my clothes and I don't know if they'll care, but fucking whatever because I don't care, and I think this could be the beginning of something amazing as long as nobody cares whether or not I can match my clothes and this could also be amazing if only I can get through it without throwing up because I don't want to throw up on my first day but I kinda do wanna throw up."

Is there a word that describes all that? Or do I need to get all Shakespeare on that word and make it up?

Did you know that Shakespeare made up words right and left? He did! He just made words up. If there wasn't a word to describe what he friggin' wanted to describe, boom: a new word came flyin' outta his quill.

That's one of my favorite things about Shakespeare. He made up new words and then he used them in his plays and then he trusted his audience members to be smart enough to understand what the words meant based on their context and then those new words became part of our lexicon.

Words like "lonely" and "tortured" and "assassin."

Words like "amazement."

Words like "flawed."

When I was in college, I took this Painting 101 class, and all of the other nascent painters in the class were, like, total geniuses, while I could barely get the paint to stay on the canvas. My painting skills truly were lackluster, to use another word that Shakespeare invented. I tried, I mean I really tried, I just couldn't ever get the image that was in my head to appear on the canvas. For our final project, our assignment was to paint these huge pieces. Like, four times the size of anything we had done before. And we had to do a rough sketch of our painting first, which we would then recreate on a larger scale. I was really proud of my rough sketch. It was great. It was this geometric collage with all of these colors that actually came together and I was more excited about this than anything I'd done all semester.

My final project was going to rock.

But then I tried to recreate the collage on a larger scale, and, not rock. Like, no, there was no rocking going on, only sucking, like, major hard-core suckage taking place on my canvas. I tried, I mean I really tried, I just couldn't get the image that I'd created in my rough sketch to appear on my canvas. But I kept trying.

Flash forward to the last day of class. We were supposed to turn in our final projects, and mine was still awful. (I'm not even exaggerating for effect. It was awful.) So I went to the hardware store and bought a can of spray paint. I shook the can. I got it all primed and ready. And then I sprayed the words "incomplete" and "flawed" across my canvas.

It was such a college-kid thing to do, but I did it, and as pretentious and lame as it kinda sounds, those two words were the truest thing about the painting and all of a sudden it was good. It was the only painting I'd made all semester that I was proud to turn in.

Anyway, that was a long digression, but I was trying to think of a word that describes the exact emotion I was describing, and I couldn't come up with one, so I decided to take a page from Shakespeare and invent my own damn word. I was re-reading the beginning of this post ("You know that anxious, fluttery, butterfly feeling...") and then the word suddenly hit me.


That's the word! Isn't it the best?

Some derivations and definitions of my new word:

Butt*flutt*er: v. To induce in someone else the state of being both excited and fearful.
Butt*flutt*er*y: adj. A simultaneous state of both excitement and fear.
Butt*flutt*ered: adj. Being in a state of both excitement and fear, often incited by New Things.

I googled the word and got zero results, so I think I'm onto something. I've created a new word. Use it. Abuse it. Get it into the lexicon.

But back to what I was saying...So: I joined a new writing group yesterday, a group that has already been together for quite some time but who wanted to add someone new, a group of friends who've known each other forever, a group of very talented writers whose work I know but who I'm just beginning to know personally, a group of writers I was honored to be asked to join. And as I walked towards the meeting, I was totally buttfluttered.

But then, as one of my new writing group companions opened the door to let me in, I was greeted by two dachshunds, and I take dachshunds as signs of good things to come, so all of my buttflutteriness fell to the wayside and I settled into the group and enjoyed myself and by the end of our first meeting I felt like I belonged, my stomach was peaceful, I was absent of any buttfluttery.


Anonymous said...

You are definitely onto something with your new word. The "butt" takes the edge off the "flutter" so you can really feel the combination of fear and excitement. As your mother, I may be the only one who truly understands that the way you have aligned yourself with Shakespeare in creating this new word is an act of humility. Others may see it as arrogance, but that is not your nature (although elitism does not elude you). Also as your mother, I have to say that, like Shakespeare, you are a true genius. Others may consider the source of this assessment suspect, but no matter. You are what you are. The world will discover it soon enough.

Eugenie Brown said...

I wish I were your mother, writing that comment that I would write to you.

Or I wish your mother were my mother, writing that comment to me.

I wish I could solve all of this by wishing I had the same birthday as your mother, but I already do.

Erik said...


(You're supposed to read that word with a kind of embarrassed, disdainful inflection, and a roll of the eyes, but then you're also supposed to understand that the embarrassed, disdainful inflection and the rolling of the eyes are all just an act.)

(Like in Family Ties, how Alex P. Keaton always acted like he was above everything and everyone because he was a Super Republican and all, but in reality you could see that the thing he cared about most was his family.)

(In other words: thanks, mom.)

Erik said...

Eugenie, I've told you this many, many times, but I will say it again, here, in my blog: I've always thought it was significant that you and my mom share a birthday. June 6 is a goody.

Anonymous said...

but does it have to have the word 'butt' in it? When I say the word 'butterfly', or think of 'butterflies in my stomach', i don't think of butts. buttflutter sounds like something i might find a toy at good vibrations to do for me. or an obliging partner...

Erik said...

Lindsay, I see your point, but I think that there's also something nice to the fact that the word is kind of sounds the way you feel, in a way, that mixture of emotions.

But, hmmm...if you think the word sounds too much like a vibrator, maybe I should do some more thinking on it!

What's the consensus?

Erik said...

Would "flutterbuttery" be a better word?

Monets said...

Been reading you for about a week now and it's time to comment.

Flutterbuttery sounds like something you buy at an adult store to make the buttflutter work more smoothly. I happen to like the sound of buttfluttery myself, but I'm a big fan of funny-sounding words.

Erik said...

monets, welcome to the fold. i'm totally on the fence right now about which word i like the best, but flutterbuttery is a little florid for my taste, and so i'm leaning towards my original instinct, buttfluttery. There's something about buttfluttery. It's more staccato and difficult to say, which works in its favor. For me, at least.

Anonymous said...

i didn't say i wouldn't buy the buttflutterer. i think it's a product we could all get behind. get behind! HA! really, though, i think we could make some money on this.

Erik said...

Is the buttflutterer the scheme that's gonna make us all millionaires?

Whenever I think of getting rich quick schemes, I think of Lucy, and I wonder, if Lucy was around, would she do this? And if she would, it means it probably shouldn't be done, but that also makes me want to do it even more. Do you know what I mean? Or am I just babbling?

Erik said...

I've thought about it, and I'm sticking with "buttfluttery." And I won't let anything stop me from getting it into the lexicon. I'm sure Shakespeare came up against a few walls when he was trying to foist the word "assassination" upon us (it contains the word "ass" TWO TIMES!), but that didn't stop HIM!