I really thought I could get away with it. You know—taking all that I loved and observed about this animal—and making that into a book. Last week, after 13 months of persistent nibbling away at the text, it was finally down from 5,000 words of rambling observations to 400 words. Yesterday it reached 198 words. Oh, beautiful tight rhymes, bouncy images, joy!
But it was flat as a pancake—and not a good pancake, with native Missouri pecans or Michigan blueberries. It was more of a Bisquick pancake without even milk or a loving Papa to make it. I had failed with all my warm-hearted might.
I had strenuously avoided, only poetically hinted, at the central fact of this particular little animal’s life.
The ugly truth? This creature is snack food. Bite-sized for just about everything that roams its region. It is munched, crunched, and lunched on, left and right.
Oh, endearing animal! I tried, for your sake. But for the manuscript’s sake, we’re going to have to incorporate TRAJECTORY. Yup, this celebration of cuteness has got to go somewhere. Drama. Suspense. Wait and worry. Curiosity. Completion. Narrative needs it.
It’s not going to be fun, little one. I apologize. But this is life. Okay, so maybe it is assembled life, but it is made to represent you in nature.
So sorry; hope you’re ready to dash.
Will yours be a fate similar to that of Arlene in Chris Raschka’s Arlene Sardine?
I hope not. But, sometimes, that is what the truth, even constructed narrative truth, demands.
[At least all the animals in my upcoming fiction, If You're Hoppy! (Greenwillow, Feb 22, 2011) get to hop, flap, and leap away in the end . . .]