Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Author as Platypus

Consider the platypus.
Part mammal, part reptile, part bird, all bound together with some kind of cosmic humor, it is one of the animal kingdom's most contradictory constituents. How do you begin to make heads or tails of it? Where does the mammal end and the reptile begin?

Parts of it seem too awkward to be real. That bill, for example. Doesn't it look like someone sewed it on as a joke? The webbed feet work when it's underwater, sure, but on land? Let's not even discuss the venomous stingers located by the rear ankles - or the fact that it makes milk but has no nipples - or that its genome contains bits and pieces of at least five different species of genes.No doubt about it, the platypus is probably the craziest mishmosh of traits and characteristics currently roaming the planet.

Now consider the author.
Part artist, part salesperson, part promoter, all bound together together with chocolate and/or wine, the author is almost as contradictory as the platypus. And, as I am discovering as I draw ever-closer to the release of my first book, much of this feels incredibly .... well ... awkward. In the very best way possible of course, but still, sometimes equating me with the term author feels about as natural as that bill on the platypus. It's a lot like being sent home from the hospital with your first baby, when you're excited and happier than you have ever been and simultaneously 100% certain that you are going to screw this up big time.

Sometimes, when I consider all the new things that I want and need to do - write and promote and sell and revise and design and volunteer and do the mom & wife thing - all at the same time - I panic. There's too much that's new and so many things to learn, and how on earth am I supposed to do all these new things at once?

That's when I must remember the platypus. Because you know, logically speaking, there's no way that animal should ever function. Five different varieties of genes? Seriously? Yet not only does the platypus function, it functions so well that it hasn't changed in one hundred thousand years. It has pulled together the world's wildest collection of bodily flotsam and jetsam, and it works. Despite everything that says no way, the platypus works. So maybe - just maybe - there is hope for the insane collection of bits and pieces that is the new author.

Or maybe I just need to move to Australia.

19 comments:

Mary Preston said...

Come to Australia by all means.

The platypus are seldom seen in the wild - I am yet to see an author roaming roam free I must say.

kris said...

LOL, Mary.

Thanks for the invitation! Australia is actually at the top of the places I would love to visit. I keep hoping I can make it happen.

mary sullivan said...

Great blog, Kris! I never knew the platypus was such a strange creature!

Authors, on the other hand...:-)

Pamela Hearon said...

LOL! Kris, thanks for my first belly laugh of the day. Does it help you to know that almost everyone finds the platypus to be fascinating? Might bode well for authors:-)

Kristina Mathews said...

Kris,

Love it. Just goes to show, you never know what just might work.

Rogenna Brewer said...

It's a vicious cycle, Kris. Enjoy the ride. And if you can, remember to put your writing first, always.

kris said...

Mary Sullivan, BWAH! Yep, we are quite the odd bunch, aren't we?

kris said...

Pam, YAY for belly laughs, and you're right - platypus(es?) are incredibly intriguing. That HAS to be a good sign.

kris said...

Kristina, EXACTLY!! Come to think of it, many of my manuscripts resemble a playtpus at some point ...

kris said...

Rogenna, I'm all for the writing first. Maybe I can train my kids to take over the other parts, right? Of course then they move out .... hmmm, this could be problematic ...

Kaelee said...

Hi Kris ~ I enjoyed this post. Love the platypus facts. The plural of platypus is platypus as far as I know. It joins octopus and moose and a few more that I can't think of at the moment. I have met a few authors and they really seemed quite normal to me but then I saw them at a book signing when they were probably on their best behavior.

I'm really looking forward to reading your debut book.

Joan Kilby said...

I have seen a platypus in the wild. They're smaller than you'd think and very quick. But I've learned more about them today, so thanks, Kris!

And yes, authors are a weird hybrid these days. Sometimes I long for a quill pen and a sheaf of paper.

kris said...

Kaelee, thanks!!! I'm very excited for that moment when the book hits the shelves.

One piece that I read suggested that the plural of platypus is platypode. Hmmmm. I like the moose/octopus comparison better.

I'm so glad that your experiences with authors have been so positive thus far. I hope I don't break that record :-)

kris said...

Joan, you've seen one in the wild? Oooooh. I am seriously jealous.What an experience that must have been. MUST visit Australia!

And oh, do I hear you on the quill & paper longings ...

linda s said...

I don't remember much that I learned in elementary school but I have a very clear memory of studying the platypus. Yesterday my grandson rescued me by pushing me out of the way of the diesel train that was coming through my kitchen. Thank goodness. Hurray for authors and vivid imaginations. Living everyday in stark reality would be scary.

kris said...

Linda, LOL, and here's hoping that diesel doesn't come back when he's not there to save you!!

Snookie said...

LOL, love the analogy Kris!

Linda Henderson said...

I've always been rather intrigued by the platypus, it's such a different species. And I'd love to go to Australia too.

kris said...

Snookie, thanks!!!

Linda, we shall have to plan a trip together.

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