Silkmoths

A reddish-brown moth sitting on a stick

A female Promethea silkmoth (Callosamia promethea) hanging out on a stick, drying her wings.

This post doesn’t have any to do with writing, but instead has to do with another passion of mine.

I love rearing silkmoths.

Not for their silk, but for their beauty. When most people think of moths, they probably think of little, drab night creatures. But silkmoths are not only big and beautiful, but the one pictured above is actually a day flier.

She is the first of her sisters to emerge from her cocoon this year, and two of her brothers hatched yesterday. I let the males go, since it’s the females that I need in order to breed them.

How do I breed them? Well, they do all the work. An unmated female releases pheromones into the air, and males home in on the scent trail and follow it back to the female to mate with her. After the mated pair separates, the female will lay a bunch of eggs, and, once I get eggs, I let the female go.

Even though I’ve seen the complete life cycle of several species of silkmoths many times over, the entire process has never gotten old for me, and I never fail to get excited when my moths emerge from their cocoons, all in mint condition. It may sound dumb, but I’m always amazed at the fact that those big, beautiful moths started out as tiny eggs.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting outside with the female (the same one as in the picture) waiting for the males to arrive. She’s in a little mesh bug cage tied up in a tree, so she’s protected from birds and can’t escape. She’ll keep releasing pheromones until dusk, so hopefully I’ll get a male for her this evening. 🙂

Afraid

I know that I’ve said here before that I hope to self-publish my book before I turn eighteen. At the moment, I’ve never felt so close to making that a reality.

I should be happy. I am way ahead of my editing schedule, and I know that the story has greatly improved since I first took that red pen to paper.

Yet I’m terrified.

Back during the extremely messy first draft/second draft phase, I sent out the first few chapters to crit partners and close friends. Needless to say, I felt absolutely crushed when I got their comments back, even though I know they were trying to help me improve my story. (And their feedback was really helpful. Without their help, I think I would still be stuck with a worse version of my first chapters.)

The problem with me, though, is that I take everything personally. When I tell myself not to, that people want to help me with my writing, I still feel like crying when I get comments back. They can even be grammar related, and I feel humiliated.

Even when it comes to my own mother, who, by the way, happens to be great at critiquing, I hesitate. She knows that, of course, and tries really hard to boost my self-confidence, but it doesn’t always work. Thoughts like these swirl around my head as she reads my chapters:

Does she think my story is boring?
Is she saying that just to be nice?
Does my writing stink? Is she judging me based on my writing?
Is she judging me based on my characters?

Part of the problem, too, is that I have poured so much of myself into this story that I’d feel embarrassed having friends and family read it. It’s like a journal with the most private things about my life bleeding through its pages. Do I really want people I know reading this story?

I’m trying to get past that fear of having others read my writing. After all, that’s kind of the point of writing stories: to be able to share something you’re passionate about, something that is close to your heart, with others. Or, at least, that’s why I write.

Plus, I know that the story can be better than it is right now. I love my novel, but I do want to put it down someday and know that it’s the best it can ever be. And I can’t make it that way on my own. Others will need to help show me the mistakes I failed to catch, even after countless hours of me staring at the story’s pages.

So, as scary as it is for me, I’m planning to have family and friends look over my novel soon. I even, in a spurt of bravery, signed up for an account on FictionPress and posted the first three chapters of my story for others to read and review.

(If you clicked that link to read the beginning of my story, I thank you so very much. If you even felt like leaving a review, no matter how small, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time and your thoughts. ^_^)

I still have a long way to go in building my self-confidence and sharing my work with others. It’s extremely hard for me, but I’m getting there.