More Emily Dickinson than PT Barnum

In the late 90s, I accidentally scratched out a bedtime story that seemed to delight more than a few children and a surprising number of insomniacs. A few years later, a friend called in a favor and made an offer: if I wanted, I could get free spec illustrations from a local artist.

I wanted. And after meeting with the illustrator, I received his designs, designs that embodied the untamed energy I had tried to portray. He deftly added so much heart to my text that 10 years later, his images continue to melt mine:

But as I was neither That Kind of Writer nor ambitious, I shopped the story half-assedly. Eventually I shopped it again—still half-assedly. Had I done it more throughly, I’m pretty sure the additional rejections would have put me well over my oh-we-really-we-don’t-want-to-go-there RDA. [No wonder Those Kinds of Writers tend towards depression and go gaga for groupies!]

Overall, the process seemed very unseemly, with more than a whiff of S&M, for a storybook. Of course overall I probably seem very unseemly, with more than a whiff of S&M, for a storybook writer.

Occasionally, I’d rouse myself and think, “Why don’t I try going around vs through the industry’s hoops?!!” but I didn’t exactly put any effort into doing that. More specifically, I put NO effort into doing that. Unless one counts daydreaming about emailing my little creation—“Eloise meets Good Night Moon!”—to the staff of Oprah or Katie C. Though perhaps I can get points for doing a little light scheming about partnering with a mattress company.


But I did nothing. Why? With literally nothing to lose, why I couldn’t bring myself to do something mildly zany? Ridiculous. Or way f’d up.

So now I’m going to post it on the internet.

Ridiculous? Or way f’d up? More a reminder to myself that external validation doesn’t set us free from internal demons. Sure, it’s easier to endure a life that’s more pats-on-the-back than pokes-in-the-eye; I’ll trade this pirate patch for a sore vertebrae any old day.

But I’m beginning to believe that if we don’t make the space for our happy endings, they’ll go elsewhere. So I’m tossing out a lot of mental crap, sweeping the hippocampus, playing Barry White to my anterior cingulate. After all, I’ve got nothing to lose by trying to lure in a happy ending or two…and everything to gain.

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