Her avatar was an anime girl with purple hair and heavy black mascara framing blue eyes. Her name was Pixie Darkness, she said. Her comment on my blog made me curious to why she even read me. She wasn’t the kind of reader I usually attracted.
“I like to think of myself as a writer,” I said just two days earlier at a Christmas party. The man who asked me what I did was wearing a reindeer sweater and eating a piece of fudge. He raised his eyebrows at my answer.
“What have you written?” he tried not to show his teeth, probably caked with fudge.
“I just finished my second novel,” I said, knowing I would have to explain that none of my work has been published in any medium he would have seen.
“I’m not published yet.” I said, defeated and blushing.
“Yet,” he laughed, pointing his fudge at me. “So you’re an aspiring author.”
“I have a friend,” he continued, chewing on the soft fudge longer than necessary. “Who just published a book. Self published, as it were. Would you do that?”
No chance in hell, I wanted to say. I would have actually said it out loud three weeks ago, but now I was coming up to another holiday where my family and friends would ask me at gatherings if I’d heard anything. I would have to tell them again that I had three more rejections from well-known publishing houses - good, honest publishing houses whose stamp graced many book bindings on my shelf at home. Their rejection letters were so well written that my agent was encouraged, telling me we were getting close.
“I’ve thought of that,” I said half-heartedly.
I looked around the room for Mario, who was laughing with Dave, our dear friend. “Get over here!” I tried to send him an invisible mind-telegram through the room, but the invisible atoms got lost somewhere between us.
“You know, I read a book this year,” Mr. Fudge was continuing. “It was called… oh what was it called?”
“What genre was it?”
“No, no… it was called ahhh….”
I waited, then my friend Terry mercifully swooped between us and said “We’re going to start the gift exchange soon!”
“Oh!” I beamed a thank you at her and she winked at me, understanding my plight.
“I remember! A Wrinkle in Time!”
“A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle?” I asked. Mr. Fudge must have gotten the title wrong.
“Yes!” It was impossible to consider him silly; he was so happy he remembered the title and was glowing, waiting for me to congratulate him. The book had been published in 1962, the same year I was born, but was considered a classic for young adults.
“That’s a good one!” I said, trying to stay humble.
“You’ve read it?” he asked me, feeling like he’d found a friend.
I wanted to say “Yeah, in the eighth grade!” but the truth was, I’ve never read a Wrinkle in Time. I should have confessed I never did, maybe even asked him if he enjoyed it…but I was genuinely trying to escape from him.
I wasn’t really enjoying the conversation with him, I didn’t know if it was because he was boring me or if it was because he was eating fudge and I couldn’t have any. If I were deliberately honest, I would have to admit that I don’t like talking about my writing too much because I thought I would have been published by now.
I did everything I was supposed to do: I wrote on schedule, I got edited by a reputable editor. My editor, beta readers and my agent all love my first novel. I am attached to the characters, but I wish they would be born. I’ve been pregnant with this book for a year and a half and now I have another one on the way.
“Do you have a website?” Mr Fudge was following me in to the room where we always did the gift exchange.
“I have a blog,” I smiled. I didn’t mind talking about my blog.
“Can I google you?” he asked me, laughing at himself.
“I’m Brazen Princess,” I answered. “Brazen Princess dot com, that’s me.”
He was about to ask me something when Mario pulled me over to a chair and rescued me.
“Why are you pulling me?” I whispered. “And why didn’t you pull me fifteen minutes earlier?”
“I was talking to that guy earlier. He’s so boring!”
“Yeah, well. All the more reason to come over and pull me away.”
We drew numbers and commenced the gift exchange.
It was only today that I noticed the comment on a short story I wrote from my anime girl named Pixie Darkness. She must have stumbled upon my blog by accident and just started reading. Here’s what she said:
“You write so well! You held me captivated from start to finish! This is just like me and my daughter!”
I love hearing that I write well -- it’s like telling a runner that they have good form. But I love to hear from strangers, especially.
This morning at Safeway, I was grabbing stocking stuffers in a hurry before the crowds began. It was nine a.m. and my hair had not been combed and I wore no makeup. I felt sorry for the tellers who had to look at me.
“Hey, Hi!” I heard from behind me. I turned around to see Mr. Fudge, dressed sharply as if he were headed off to work. He held a coffee cup in his hand, just purchased from the in-store Starbucks.
“Hi,” I was surprised to see him, and a little embarrassed.
“I read your blog, I just wanted to let you know.”
A wave of gratitude came over me. “Thank you.”
“You write very well. Your story was just like me and my daughter, I commented something to that effect, I don’t know if you saw it…”
“Are you Pixie Darkness?” I smiled, amused.
“Well, I used my niece’s twitter account to comment, I couldn’t do it myself.” He looked embarrassed telling me this, and took a sip of coffee. His vulnerability endeared me to him and I laughed.
“So that was me.”
“Thanks for commenting.”
We just smiled at each other for a second, and then I said: “You know, I never read a Wrinkle in Time. I heard it was good but I never read it.”
“Oh, it’s good. I read it aloud with that same niece. That’s what we do; we read aloud whatever she has for school. I like to help her out because she lives with me and my wife. She needs help with homework.”
“Good for you,” I was genuinely impressed. I loved helping kids with their homework, too.
“Well, I better go!” He said, starting to walk toward the door. “Don’t give up! Keep writing!”
By the time I got home, I realized he was right. So I did.
This is what I wrote.