I remember reading the story of the flying elephant to my kids when they were little. It begins with the other circus animals welcoming their miniature versions of themselves. Each takes a turn, but no baby arrives for Mrs. Jumbo. Hold it right there. Sure, she’s a tad larger than some of the other performers. But who in their right mind decided to name a pregnant female anything, Mrs. Jumbo? And then, just to add insult to injury, call her (overly endowed in the ear department) child Dumbo?
I often wondered what lessons were supposed to be absorbed by the child reading the story. Elephants have a long gestation period? You can’t always get what you want? Good things are worth the wait? Women don’t care what you name them in stories as long as you throw MRS in front of it? I had such a hard time with the premise I hid our copy in the bottom of the box of books.
As an adult, I related strongly to Mrs. Jumbo. I felt like I was always waiting for something just out of reach. When it arrived, I’d place some new goal on the horizon to try to achieve. It sounds admirable but it put me in a perpetual state of anticipation. Makes for a good song but not a fun way to live.
Which brings me to the topic of writing my book. For the past umpteen years, I’ve written, “Finish the Book” in my journal on January 1st. It was nothing more than a wish. I wanted to be done, but had no plan or structure. Like Mrs. Jumbo waiting in the corner, confused and sad.
I waited so long for this incredibly perfect, magical tome to appear I could barely stand it. I realize now how futile that is. Birthing a book is a tempting metaphor but simply misguided. It’s art. And that takes inspiration and plain old work.
I plan on having a lot of both come to the fore as my book takes shape. And it’s guaranteed to be more like Dumbo than I ever realized. Flawed, different, but stands on its own as completely mine.