Do you remember Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say The Darnedest Things?” Well, we have a variation on the theme today: “Grandkids make you do crazy things.” That’s the story for retired editor and writer Alan Paul of Hawthorne, New Jersey, whose granddaughter helped him complete a long forgotten dream.
When my daughter Carolyn was about eight years old, she came to me and asked, “Daddy, can you write about anything besides sports?” Having been a magazine editor and writer for many years, although admittedly mostly for sports and fitness publications, I still couldn’t help but be a little put off by the question. After a moment, I said, “Sure, Munchkin. I can write about other stuff. Why?” She answered, “Could you write me a story?”
That conversation got me hunting through the accordion folder that most writers kept back in the day, which was crammed full of newspaper and magazine clippings carrying the germs of ideas for articles and stories. I paused when a got to a small, coffee-stained NewYork Times article about the prehistoric ancestors to modern-day birds. This was right around the time when anthropologists were making the connection between some dinosaurs and their possible avian reincarnations.
So I did some further research and sat down to craft a story about one particular creature which was the link between dinosaurs and birds. The short story quickly morphed into a novella. When I completed a chapter, I would read it to Carolyn before she went to bed. Depending on her reaction, I would either move on to the next chapter or tinker with the last until it met her approval. This went on for eight chapters and an epilogue, until the story, which I called “Confuchsia: An Early Bird’s Tale,” was finished.
“Confuchsia” is the story of a strange creature born amid the sole survivors of the Arkie clan. She looks nothing like her kin and is soon banished from the clan and left on her own to discover who she is and hopefully to find others like her. Confuchsia comes across many fascinating and unusual creatures as she travels through the ancient forest in search of her destiny. She eventually meets Braxus, the wise old ruler of the forest, who advises her and tells her to listen to her inner voice. He gives her hope that she may one day find her purpose in life. But Confuchsia must overcome much if she is to prevail.
I peddled the book to several publishing houses and eventually it was accepted by a small publisher in Virginia. They sent me a modest advance… then the company promptly went out of business before my bird tale reached publication. So, the book essentially sat on a shelf for— give or take — a quarter-century.
At the conclusion of that intervening quarter-century, a wonderful thing happened: when my daughter Carolyn and son-in-law Jon brought forth a tiny miracle they named Ellis Rose, I became a grandfather. My thoughts and emotions with respect to said granddaughter have been chronicled (some would say “over-chronicled”) here at BoomerCafé. But, as many of my grandparent compatriots might attest, the arrival of that third-generation crumb-snatcher tends to prod us into contemplating the essence of our respective legacies.
So, I fetched Confuchsia from her shelf, dusted her off, and sent her to one of today’s many subsidy publishing houses, determined to see her fly this time. Explaining my decision to a friend, I said, only partly in jest, “Your grandkids make you do crazy things.” Another friend, hearing this comment, offered, “Grandchildren help us to complete our dreams.”
I like that explanation for my irrational behavior a whole lot better.
You can buy Alan’s long-delayed “Confuchsia: An Early Bird’s Tale: A Bedtime Story Reader” here.