Think back to any old Western movie you ever saw. Chances are, one of the characters took a bullet or an arrow in the chest, and his life hung in the balance. Chances are, another character volunteered to dig the object out and save the man’s life. This character was either an alcoholic, has-been sawbones or a pretty blonde woman in a white blouse that remained clean despite the dust and grime that surrounded her.
What followed was pretty standard. The doctor poured a couple slugs of whiskey down the victim’s throat, took a couple himself, and doused the wound with whatever was left. Unless she was also a fallen woman, the pretty blonde usually denied herself this fortification for the sake of propriety. A few cowboys held the injured man down, and somebody instructed him to “bite the bullet” while forcing one between his teeth. The man proceeded to thrash about, complicating the issue of finding and extracting the cause of his pain, all the while refraining from splashing blood on any white blouse in the vicinity. At some point the suffering man screamed between his clenched teeth, “Stop! Stop! Leave me alone. Let me die in peace!” Of course, nobody stopped, and he eventually fainted, making the job of saving his life much easier.
Chances are, the next scene featured the victim all bandaged up (possibly with strips torn from the pretty blonde’s still-pristine white blouse). Chances are, he held the object that tried to kill him in one hand while the blonde, in a slightly different white blouse, held his other hand. If she were a fallen woman, she might appear in only her chemise. In either case, they vowed their eternal love for each other, and yet another movie ended happily ever after. In an alternate version, the man dies in the midst of his thrashing, and the movie ends with everyone standing solemnly over his grave or continues long enough for the good guys to track down their friend’s murderer.
I fully empathize with the injured man in the movie. I, too, have faced an enemy and suffered mental and emotional wounds, as well as the physical unpleasantness of writer’s cramp. In the midst of my agony I, too, have cried, “Stop! Stop! Leave me alone. Let me die in peace!” to well-meaning friends who have poked and prodded me to start a blog. But in the end I, too, bit the bullet: the blog bullet.
What tipped me over the edge? First, the fear that my novel, which has consumed so much of my life, will die a languishing death in its three-ring binder on a cluttered bookshelf due to my lack of an established readership. Second, the fear that I have wasted so much time writing it when I could have been doing something useful, like learning Swahili with the Rosetta Stone. But mainly it was the gentle prodding of–here comes the cliché–a pretty, blonde woman.
This pretty, blonde woman has a few things my other encouraging friends don’t have: a successful career as a web designer, a couple of beehives on order, and a dragonfly tattoo. The tattoo has nothing to do with anything except it shows her free spirit, which I love. The career has a lot to do with it, as she set up a basic blog site for me and continues to spoon-feed me instructions via daily phone calls and emails. And the beehives? We’re both beekeepers (I am slightly more experienced), and we’re doing this on a barter system, she tells me. I assume this means she will require some help in setting up and maintaining her hives when they arrive in a few weeks. That I can do. After all, what’s a few bee stings compared to a bullet in the chest?