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, well...it...um...did 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.