My partner Howard and I sometimes joke that we should get a sampler to hang in our living room with the words "Everything is connected." It's something of a mantra for us -- a reminder that we are all part of something larger. And that what goes around comes around, cosmically speaking.
Few things make me happier than when the truth of that idea reveals itself. Circles, I call them: the completed connections that surprise and replenish me.
Maggie's Monkeys has been full of circles for me. One of them was the realization just a few months before the book came out that the story was about me. That sounds crazy, I know, but while I knew some of the obvious ways the story was about me (I had an invisible monkey friend as a child), I didn't get the most important way it was my story.
Not until I was writing a blurb about the book for the Junior Library Guild magazine -- note the subtle way I got in that mention? -- did I realize Maggie is essentially a writer. She creates an imaginary world and populates it with friends who are entirely real to her. Then she opens that world to those around her and invites them to join her there.
Isn't that exactly what fiction writers do? I just wish I could be as calm as Maggie about whether the people I care about "get it." Maybe when I have as much faith in my creations as she does, I'll also be as nonchalant as she is.
That was one circle. Another was the way in which Abbie's love of books -- and one in particular -- inspired my biggest success in writing for children. Reading to her when she was little helped me realize how much I love children's books and that's where my creative energy needed to go. To have her fantasy life and mine dovetail so nicely in this project pleased me. The book is dedicated "To Abbie and the Healer, who reminded me you can't always see what's real."
So about a year or so ago, I decided that we needed another copy of The Twenty-Five Mixtec Cats, because our original was so tattered. I ordered a used one (not realizing at the time that I could purchase it through the author -- sorry, Matthew).
When it came, it had been signed. And it became clear I was meant to have this copy.
I know Linda is a pretty common name, but still...
Last week, I sent Matthew Gollub a copy of Maggie's Monkeys, signed to him. And the circle is complete.