This little story may be familiar to some of our long time followers. It was first posted in June 2009 and I planned to keep going with it, but life intervened. I’ve got a deadline for a proposal, so I asked Miss Rabbit (you’ll meet her in a minute) to fill in for me today. Here we go!
Writers have different ways of describing their muses. The muse is where we get our ideas, the part of us that comes up with the stuff that makes a story personal and fresh. My muse happens to be a five-year-old girl with a purple crayon. When I’m starting a new manuscript (which I am now), I picture her doing what I did when I was five years old. With that purple crayon in hand, I stood on my bed and drew elephants on the wall.
It was great fun until my dad walked in.
“What are you doing?” he said in his “dad” voice.”
I told him I was drawing elephants. Looking back, I’m sure had the tone only a five year old can get, the tone that says, “Can’t you see what I’m doing?”
He probably couldn’t. My elephants were a tad bit primitive. They were also HUGE, and there were lots of them. I covered the entire wall and I did it with glee. That weekend my dad painted the wall pink again.
Away went my elephants, but that little girl with the purple crayon lives on. I think of her every time I start a new manuscript. She didn’t overanalyze or plan a perfect drawing. She didn’t think about how to draw an elephant. She saw purple elephants and she drew them with all the joy in her heart.
In her honor, I’m going to have a little fun today. The following story is an exercise I do to get out of “editing mode” and into “creative mode.” It’s a children’s story. Our heroine is Miss Rabbit. She owns a cowgirl hat with holes for her ears, she likes glitter and her favorite color is pink. She writes cowboy stories and has a whole bunch of forest friends. Here we go . . .
Miss Rabbit Rides Again
“Oh, no!” said Miss Rabbit. “What am I going to do?”
“What’s the matter?” asked Gertie Goose, her very best friend.
“I need a cowboy!” Miss Rabbit raised her front paws in exasperation. “And I need him right now!”
“A cowboy?” Gertie squawked. “Why do you need a cowboy?”
“For a hero, silly!”
“I’m not silly!”
“Yes, you are,” Miss Rabbit insisted. “You’re a goose, and gooses are silly. I’m a rabbit, and we’re very busy. We hop and we bounce and we have our very own holiday. We also write books about cowboys and princesses, and that’s why I need a cowboy right now!”
Gertie twisted her long white neck. “But why?”
“Because I have a deadline!” shrieked Miss Rabbit.
In a slightly calmer tone, Miss Rabbit told Gertie that Emily the Editor had asked her for a brand new story. Emily, a sleek and beautiful ermine from New York City, wanted another cowboy story and she wanted it soon. “That’s why I need a cowboy,” Miss Rabbit finished. “I just don’t know where to find one.”
Gertie huffed like only a goose can huff. It came out in a honk worthy of a taxicab. “If you need a cowboy,” said Gertie, “we better go lookin’ for one.”
“But where?” Miss Rabbit asked.
“I know just the place!” Gertie winked. “Follow me!”
Waddling on her huge orange feet (Gertie couldn’t wear high heels but she wished she could), she headed for the door to Miss Rabbit’s hutch.
“Wait!” Miss Rabbit cried. “I have to put on my cowgirl writer outfit!”
Gertie looked over her feathered shoulder and huffed. “And what might that be?”
Miss Rabbit hopped to her old Victorian wardrobe. She’d bought it at a yard sale and it held her best writer outfits. Some days she wore a feather boa and diamonds. Other days she wore her official Super Writer costume, a stunning combo of mismatched pajamas and a tiara. Today she needed something different, so she selected her red cowgirl boots, a black miniskirt with sequins, and a white leather vest with fringe and silver stars. She topped off the outfit with her pink Stetson and hopped after Gertie.
“Where are we going?” Miss Rabbit asked.
“To Dry Gulch Springs.”
“Are there cowboys in Dry Gulch Springs?” Miss Rabbit decided not to point out to Gertie that “Dry Gulch Springs” was a silly name. How could a dry gulch have springs? If it had a spring, it wouldn’t be dry. She’d edit it later.
“Oh yes!” said Gertie. “There are all sorts of manly critters in Dry Gulch Springs.” She lifted her wing and counted off on her feathers. “Bart the Bear is the sheriff. He’s handsome with a chip on his shoulder.” She bent another feather. “Wyatt Wolf is wanted for murder, but he didn’t do it.” Gertie winked. “He’s tortured. You’ll like him.”
Miss Rabbit thought so, too. Then again, she was a little tired of tortured heroes. Her last one drove her nuts. She’d almost let the bad guys lynch him. “Who else?” she asked.
Gertie made a humming sound. “Let’s see . . . There’s Rancher Rick the Raccoon. He’s got two black eyes and you can only imagine how he got them!”
Miss Rabbit’s mind took off. Was he protecting the heroine? Or maybe he just liked to fight. “How did he get them?”
Gertie nearly swooned. “Everyone knows Buck. He’s the king of the forest and he has a rack of antlers–” She spread her wings as far as they could reach– “Out. To. Here.”
Miss Rabbit’s heart went pitter pat. Big antlers were a plus when it came to manly heroes. So were broad chests and wide shoulders, big brown eyes and muscular thighs. Oops. She forgot. Se writes inspirational now. She wouldn’t skip the muscular thighs. What’s a romance without that magic of attraction? But she wouldn’t dwell on them either.
“Is he handsome?” she asked.
“You bet!” Gertie winked at her. “Best of all, Buck’s got a story to tell you won’t believe . . .”
And so it goes . . . I’m not sure who Miss Rabbit will pick for the hero in her next book, but it’s fun to let her play. How about you? Did you ever draw purple elephants on a wall? Or maybe you’ve had to paint a wall because someone else went nuts with a crayon? My oldest son turned the flowered wall paper in his bedroom into a race track. We never did get it all off!