Interestingly, the writer Aesop himself is under question. Was Aesop Greek, was he a slave, or was he Greek but ethnically African? And did he, in fact, write Aesop’s fables? Hmmm…sounds like the Shakespeare controversy.
But I digress.
The gist of the story for all two of you who haven’t heard it is that a curious scorpion ventures out to learn about the world. Sounds like a writer already, right? He comes to a river (and that’s not metaphorical?). Of course, the bank on the other side of the river is always greener with more story potential, but alas, the scorpion cannot swim. When he implores a frog for a ride across the river, the frog’s obvious question is, “What’s to stop you from stinging me once we are mid-stream?”
The scorpion replies, “If I sting you, we both die.”
The frog, logical creature that he is, agrees to transport the scorpion. Halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog. As paralysis sets in, the befuddled frog asks why.
The scorpion shrugs. “I’m a scorpion. It is my nature.”
I’ve heard of people shocked to find their personal stories set down in pen and ink for all the world to see, and the writer’s nonchalant rejoinder, “You knew I was a writer before you talked to me.”
The writer’s nature and all that.
I’m not a scorpion; in fact, I know stories I won’t publish simply because of the sting that would cause others about whom I care. I began wondering if there is another writer type and I conjured up the caterpillar.
The caterpillar is the antithesis of the butterfly. The social butterfly flits; the social caterpillar sits.
That would be yours truly.
I listen better than I speak. I write better than I mingle. I do almost everything better than I mingle. At a party I tend to cling to a spot near an indoor tree or dining table, beverage glass pressed to my thorax. There I can munch away, caterpillar-style—unobtrusive but ever-present.
Surprise! People gravitate to me. They talk. I listen. Here’s a quote I like from bad boy playwright raconteur Wilson Mizner: “A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.”
This is true.
People have regaled me with the intricacies of stamp auctions, the machinations of startup corporations, the policies of peanut-allergic people boarding airplanes. (This latter information I can put to use in a future novel.)
So, talk to me. I’m easy to spot. I’ll be the anthropod with the big ears.
Now tell me, in the world of writing (and life) are you butterfly, caterpillar or scorpion?
A word of warning—the scorpion eats the butterfly and the caterpillar for breakfast.