A golem is a monster – a shapeless creature made of earth – a hefty, hulking blob conjured into existence from a dimension seldom visited by human beings except, perhaps, in our nightmares. Once it has been called into this reality, the golem lumbers along doing its creator’s bidding. In my case, some silly, sub-conscious part of me managed, yet again, to summon this grotesque creature forth. She awakened this slumbering beast from the deepest, darkest corner of my psyche. My golem is not made of clay. It is a tangle of words, criticisms – and when it stalks me, it sows seeds of doubt in my conscious mind.
I thought the monster had been slain last June when I had been blessed with landing a brilliant agent – Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency – as the result of a first pages manuscript critique he had done at an SCBWI event last spring. Stephen obviously believes in me and my middle grade tale of adventure about a chicken who, for the first time in the history of exploration, recounts the true story behind Marco Polo’s journey to China. But apparently, my golem hasn’t read that memo. It still sits mired in skepticism, spreading its poison like a bug bomb fogging my head with what’s-taking-so-long-it-must-suck and how-will-you-ever-pull-it-off-again-anyway-when-it-does-sell.
Thankfully, there is an antidote to this deadly venom – trust, time, and patience. And just this morning, the high-dosage mantra of TTP I had self-medicated with finally paid off. Not in the sale of my manuscript, not yet, but in the idea for my next project. Any qualms the golem had embedded in my confidence were squelched, stamped flat as bug splat on a windshield, when my fictitious characters from last weeks post began planning their future while I made my breakfast.
It wasn’t already crazy enough that Liesl’s and Franzl’s chatter had kept me from going back to sleep at 5 a.m., now the cousins were arguing over whether they should be related as I turned on the coffee machine and set my milk to warm on the stove.
“What if we end up falling in love, despite your condescending attitude toward me?” said Franzl while I grabbed a dirty bowl from the dishwasher, filled it with milk, and sprinkled fresh blueberries into it.
“Endearing as you are sometimes, that will never happen, Franzl. You’re a birdbrain, an air head,” said Liesl. “Besides, I have more important things on my mind than watching submarine races on the beach after dark like the other dolts in my class.”
“Well then, what if we’re siblings?” said Franzl.
Liesl’s lips cinched. “I guess then I’d have to love you.”
“But if we’re cousins…and we do fall in love…it could make for a happier ending…cousins do get married ya’ know,” Franzl insisted. “Not first cousins, ewww, that would be gross. But second cousins…”
Holy schlamoly! I’ve heard authors say their characters actually talk to them, I thought. Oh, and Franzl? Falling in love? Maybe too cliche…
“Not if it serves the story,” he said, not sounding at all featherbrained to me.
“Hey, those look like little blue belly buttons, don’t they?”
Franzl’s suggestion reminded me that the dishwasher had never been turned on. In fact, Jazzie and Lucy had licked the bowl clean—a ritual we shared every morning once I had eaten my fill of multigrain squares. Ewww! I groaned and dumped it into the sink.
“Noooo! Pleease! We’re sweet and innocent! We’re much too dear to be tossed out!”
The blueberries had apparently found their voice too – and they did have a point. They cost a bundle this time of year. I washed them with soap and sprinkled them over a fresh bowl of cereal.
“Now we need a villain,” said Franzl. “Every good story needs a bad guy.”
“You mean villainess,” corrected Liesl. “A bad gal. And I have just the right person in mind…an evil step sister.”
“Been done Liesl!” said Franzl. Forgetting that he had been turned into an owl, Franzl tried to snap his fingers. “Oh, nevermind…there should be a quest though, or some kinda’ life threatening event, and blood…MAYBE we’ve got to save Silverwood – no, the WORLD – from being destroyed by an asteroid…
I sighed. That’s been done too Franzl. The asteroid…
“Well, we’ll think of something to keep your readers riveted,” the cousins sang in unison.
BZZZZT – BZZZZT – the coffee machine announced its presence. “Earth to Donna!”
“Oh, fava beans and foccachia,” I screamed, returning my attention to breakfast as SWOOSH… Hot milk rose, cascaded over the edge of the little pot, and pooled into a sizzling puddle, banishing those golem criticisms into a cloud of smoke. I had been so involved with this new cast of characters that I hadn’t noticed Jazzie and Lucy barking to go out either.
So now, if you will excuse me, I’d offer you a cup’a’something, but I’ve got to clean up the mess, walk the pups, and have a chat with my new friends.
As for the golem?
Well, he is a part of me – probably even a part of all of us.
He just needs to be put in his place sometimes.
Nothing a little TTP can’t handle.
Don’t you agree?