Thursday, June 11, 2009

What I Learned From a Goose

Geese must think we are the silliest creatures on the planet. At least, that's the distinct impression I got as I strolled down by the piers, and a flock of them - psychologists at the top of their field, I presume - gave me that knowing glare.  

Let me back up.

For some crazy reason, I was suddenly hit with the feeling that I was never going to be published. Most writers have gone through this at least 95 times in say, the last 10 minutes, I know, but I'd never actually thought that before. Confident? Some would say. Others would call me cocky. The latter is closer the mark. I'm a tightrope walker in the carnival of confidence, and try to keep from falling one way or the other - unsuccessfully, most of the time. 

The Instigator - I hadn't received an email I believed was coming. A second also never found its way to my inbox (thought admittedly, there was no timeframe for that one - only the impatient dreaming of yours truly, who set up a newly established fantasy world of: get me that email NOW!)

My stomach was churning, my mind was twirling, I was on the verge of a complete physical/emotional/philosophical/ and for some reason, topographical breakdown. Hey -there's a lot of construction going on by me!

As is usually the case when I need to do some serious thinking, I went down by the water and was simply trying to work out why I had let some non-emails get so much power over me. Then it hit me. I really want to be a published author. You're probably wondering why this had just occurred to me. After all, I have written a novel. Something must have started me doing so. I think it began with just telling a story. I had this idea that I wanted to share and I never thought - hey, I have to be a published author to do this. I just sat down and wrote my story.

And now, 3 months later, I've had 9 requests for my work and I've been to an amazing writer conference (BEA), and I've basically made my entire world all about writing. So now it's not just words on a page telling my story - it's a living, breathing entity that has become an extension of who I am. Scary! Most will tell you there's already enough of me, I don't need expansion.  

The danger, I found out, was in giving so much weight to whether or not I become published. The fact is, I've written my story, a story I wanted to write because it's a story I wanted to read. And I really enjoy it. A lot of other people do too. And I know there's much work ahead (when an editor gets his or her hands on it) but I'm really satisfied with what I have for the present. The pure love of writing the story and discovering what the characters were going to do next or what they might say - getting to know them - that's what it's all about! That's why we sit down at the computer and pour our hearts out and create.

This brings us back to the geese.

So I wasn't calming down. I decided just to head home. That's when I passed the geese. They were all sitting in a single line on the grass at the end of the pier. I stopped and couldn't help but notice how peaceful they looked. They were gazing north toward the GW bridge and I thought - that's rather odd; the GW bridge doesn't often equal peace and tranquility - what are these guys looking at? I turned north to discover the great answer.

I was met with a soft breeze tickling my face. That was the answer I sought. I have many simple pleasures. I've already mentioned my love of water and being by rivers and the ocean. It just makes me happy. So does wind. And guess what - my main character happens to agree with me. So I started thinking about young Chris Kringle and his fondness for the breeze that tickled his face in the early morning, just before sunrise, as his sleigh hurtled through Relian Plains on their way to what would become a terrifying chase from thousands of slobbering abominable snowmen in the depths of an ice cavern, all while trying to locate the mystical Rouchine Post and a blaring underground sun.

Suddenly my mind was back where it belonged - with my characters, with my story. I wasn't all wound up in the ridiculous aspects of the business garbage. I was excited again! I remembered why I sit down to write!

I thought about the basketball game that night and playing with my son the next day and starting a new book - Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest. I thought about what was important to me - family, friends, playtime, creating stuff.

The goose leader glanced over to me. He saw my face, which had held so much tension in it just moments earlier. He saw it soften and relax as the wind came gently in. He saw a smile curl up the edges of my lips. He hissed at me for trying to come up to him and steal his baby. I apologized and said, "I was just trying to hug him." He broke out into some serious kung fu moves to protect his young from the feeble human assailant, and I just narrowly maneuvered around his attack. Silhouetted by the setting sun, I was a black ninja of sorts to this proud papa goose. We quickly settled our differences, he realized it was simply a misunderstanding on his part, and I bought him a red bell pepper in friendship. What I didn't realize then, is the most offensive thing you can ever do to a goose is to present them a red bell pepper. I don't have all the facts, but it has something to do with a barbershop quartet, three blueberry muffins, and a harpsicord back in the 18th century. 

I escaped the flock with two bruises on my left shin, a bit of torn clothing, white poopie in my hair (still can't figure out how it got there - but maybe they used tactics from their monkey friends. It was all a blur.) 

But I also escaped with a new sense of self. Not because I managed to get a quick hug from the goose baby - a feat that is unparalleled from what I gather. No - this was an understanding of what was truly important in my life. I love my family, I love my son, I love watching the basketball playoffs, I love devouring all the MG books I can find, I love writing - simply because I get to go inside my head and create a world I'd love to visit.

Will my book get published? Yeah - probably. But now it doesn't have to.  



  1. Here are the random thoughts that popped into my head.
    *"Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming."
    *Jeez your posts are long, but I guess that's because you're a writer.
    *Are ninja geese like ninja turtles?
    *9 requests! Wow!
    *What are you reading now?
    *I want a log line for Samuel Blink. I'm thinking he's the sandman.
    *You're gonna do great cuz your ducks (or geese) are in a row.
    Can you sleep now?


    Samuel Blink is the book I'm reading right now. Will actually be picking it up in a few minutes and try to get through 50 pages before bed. It's like Fablehaven in many ways - extremely well written - mix of funny/sad - mystery going, has me caught up in the world. Brother and Sister lose parents and have to go live in Norway with estranged aunt, who tells them NEVER to go into the forest, which is supposed to be reall, really dangerous and stuff. Really good read.

    Ninja geese are far more aggressive and I'm lucky to be alive.

  3. Oh, I thought you were writing the Samuel Blink book. Hah!

    And you have to name the ninja geese like HG Wells, and JR Tolkien, and TS Eliot, and JK Rowlings. See- like the ninja turtles have famous painter names, and the geese have famous writer names! Oh, nevermind. It's late.

  4. Wells, Tolkien, Eliot, and Rowling - The Middle Grade Mutant Ninja Geese!

    I Love it!

    No new series for me thank you. I'll just stick with Kringle for awhile - though I did have an old series idea pop into my head the other day and new thought came on in last night. But I have all I can handle right now!

    Have a great night!