An image of Lester turned into a painting.
Yesterday, dear reader, I followed through when inspiration struck me. On Monday, I was walking my Heavy-B around the fields. My morning walk is usually the time I converse with my maker. I finished my conversation earlier than usual and found my mind wandering. I enjoyed the birdsong, marveled at the agility of squirrels, and thought about our little bottle babies, Midge and Lester.
Little Lester is our only genuine bottle baby at this point…thank goodness. Big Red is doing much better, she is still a bit delicate, but she is making enough milk to overfeed Miss Midge. As a precaution, we give her a bottle every few hours, but she plays with the bottle more than she eats. On the other hand, Little Lester relies upon us to sustain him. Lester eats two nine-ounce bottles every three to four hours. He’s a bit of a chunk, but I like my baby goats fat and happy.
For whatever reason, I started thinking about Lester’s situation and how it is relatable to many children. When I was a teacher, I knew many of “my kids” were going through difficulties beyond their control. My students faced challenges that weren’t their doing and had no choice or say in the matter. What impressed me about these kids was their ability to adapt and maintain a positive outlook on life even though their worlds were complex, dark, or uncertain. Much like my former students, Lester has adapted to his world and doesn’t allow anything to hold him back. He faces each day with a bounce and smile. Yes, it’s true, goats smile.
As I thought about Little Lester, it struck me that this could make a charming children’s book. Lester is an adorable character, after all. Not only is he cute, but he is going through many things human children must face. He’s been abandoned by his mom; he’s being raised by a community that doesn’t necessarily look like him; he’s faced hunger; he’s been adopted; he’s bullied; he feels rejected; his mom is sick and can’t take care of him, etc. Inspiration struck, and it didn’t fade. If I’m honest, I feel like inspiration strikes me frequently. Ask The Bibbed Wonder; I have all kinds of amazing ideas. I think they are amazing; he, on the other hand, does not feel so inspired. He looks at my grand ideas like a whole lot of work. Sigh. Being a creative genius married to a bib overall-wearing nay-sayer is so hard. Inject a woeful hand over my forehead, a long-suffering sigh, and perhaps an eye roll here.
Anyhow, I came home from my walk, sat down, and jotted down my list of ideas for Lester’s story, and then I did tedious, menial tasks like laundry, cleaning, and making lunch. Thinking that perhaps my thoughts were not so inspired, I let them brew for a bit. However, the ideas for a story kept finding their way to the front of my brain. I spent the day doing what had to be done, and then in the late afternoon, I focused on my bean. I got up Tuesday morning, got The Bean off to school, and walked The Bus, and again, story ideas kept coming to me.
When I returned from my walk, I tried to finish the tasks that needed to be done, but I had a nagging thought that wouldn’t go away. It was like an itch I couldn’t scratch. Rather than ignore it, I sat down at my laptop and began writing a rough draft. Hours later, I had a roughed-out rhyming story written. When I say rough draft, I mean ragged. However, the borders were created, and I had a framework to build upon. I didn’t tell The Bibbed Wonder I was writing a story. When he came to the house inquiring about lunch, I felt rather shy and embarrassed and informed him I had written a rough draft.
Have you ever felt so excited about an idea that you almost felt feverish? My face was flushed, I felt hot, and I believe my eyes were alight with creativity. I was excited to share my idea with Eric but also felt self-conscious. As we stood at the stove making scrambled eggs together, he asked if I would share my story with him. I went and got my computer, waited until he sat down to eat his eggs, and then I read it out loud, emphasizing that it was indeed a rough draft and not to get overly zealous about it.
When I finished reading my rough draft, The Bibbed Wonder put down his fork, smiled the smile that went all the way to his eyes, and said, “Wow, you are really talented. That’s amazing, buddy. I’m not being kind; I think you have something there.” I felt my face flush with pleasure and asked if he really thought so. My husband is my staunchest supporter. However, he’s also my strongest critic. He’s not critical in an unkind, cut my knees out from under me, make me feel bad kind of way. He’s realistic. The Bibbed Wonder takes my ideas and puts them into a realistic realm. He makes my big dreams doable. He makes them happen.
I knew he really meant what he said when I saw the spark in his eye, and he jumped on board and began discussing illustration ideas. Of course, I know exactly how I want my storybook to look. Of course, my vision is also very complex and challenging to achieve. However, I feel like I am putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. I need to finish, polish, and perfect my story, and then we can discuss the book-making process.
When my dear friend Jenna came last night, Eric sent her to the house with instructions to have me read my story aloud. I don’t know why I feel so self-conscious about reading my little story. I taught for ten years and read aloud to a classroom full of students regularly. I loved reading aloud. I thoroughly enjoy reading aloud to my bean. We sometimes continue to read to each other even though she is now fourteen. When she was small, I loved reading aloud storybooks using different voices, inflection, and tones. For some reason, I feel uncomfortable reading my own story aloud. However, after a bit of procrastination and subject dodging, I read my story to Jenna.
Jenna was just as kind and supportive as The Bibbed Wonder. My bean was the next person I shared my story with; she was also impressed and supportive. I know I write to you, dear reader, almost every day. At this point, I feel as if I am having a one-sided conversation with an old friend. However, sharing this little story feels different. I can’t explain it. I will, however, share the first verse with you.
On a farm on a hill where the wind always blows,
Lives a little white goat with brown spots and a tiny pink nose.
His name is Lester, and he’s in the know.
He’s grateful and hopeful and not full of woe.
I will continue to work on my story. I know I have a lot of editing and rewriting to do. I also know several trusted former colleagues I want to share my story with and ask for feedback before making any big moves. However, I am genuinely stoked to write a story about a dear little abandoned goat and his adventures.
So, dear reader, with the little I have shared, what do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Meh idea? I would appreciate the feedback. On this beautiful spring day, stay safe, be smart, be inspired, and keep washing your hands.