Emerging from a Converse cocoon
Concealed in my closet amongst actual shoes there rests a Converse shoebox full of something else. Something altogether unshoelike.
Twenty years ago, I tucked every story idea that danced through my head into that same shoebox. I was too full of story ideas, beginnings and characters to actually sit down and develop any of them, but I’d get around to it someday.
Someday, I knew, those little scraps of paper would metamorphosis into page after page of beautiful tales.
In my mid-teens, I met my first boyfriend and stopped opening the shoebox. Still, I moved the box with me when I headed to Los Angeles for law school.
I got rid of most other things when I later moved to Japan, but I kept that shoebox. I no longer believed my little caterpillar ideas would ever grow into butterflies, but I couldn’t bring myself to part with their cocoon, or the hope they’d once represented.
Walking home from the grocery store one evening in Japan, I thought about how I’d just written an autobiography in three weeks. It seemed like a stellar accomplishment, but not a stopping point. I wondered if I could write a novel in one week.
I dismissed the thought at first, but then I remembered the only idea I’d ever really tried to coax toward metamorphosis. During my freshman year of high school, I’d filled 114 notebook pages with the beginning of a story whose protagonist wasn’t too thrilled to have a vampire dad.
Fortunately, I'd never finished that story. As I completed my long walk home, I grew more and more excited to see how that story might grow if nurtured anew.
Six days and very little sleep later, I finished the first draft of my first novel, The Monster’s Daughter. It was rough. It was meandering. But it was a full book. That I’d written! A butterfly emerged from a Converse shoebox cocoon. In the following weeks, two more butterflies found their way out in the form of The Monster’s Daughter’s sequels.
I’d never once opened the box with my hands, but I’d certainly opened it with my heart.
When I moved back to Oregon, most my possessions remained in Japan, but the box came with me.
About a year ago, I was struggling to edit the book that follows The Monster’s Daughter. I awakened from a dream feeling the box had called to me, “There’s another, totally different story to tell before you return to that one.”
Without so much as touching the box, I wrote another novel whose origins were contained within it.
Since then, I’ve only held the box long enough wrest it from my toddler’s grip. I find nevertheless that I am heartened by its nearness.
If you asked me to tell you what “caterpillars” now sleep in that Converse box in my closet, I couldn’t describe a single one to you. But I do believe those caterpillars whisper to me when I’m wondering if I really have anything else left to write. In these moments, I find myself most grateful that my younger, more impatient self set aside those little scraps of paper in the hopes they’d someday be given their chance to grow wings and fly.
Thanks to her faith, they have.
About the Book:
From Goodreads: "Seventeen-year-old Ginny Connors figures she's gotta be imagining things when her father starts showing signs of being a bloodsucking fiend. Still, she hangs a cross on her bedroom door. Just in case.
When Ginny discovers people aren't the guests but the main course at her father's New Year party, she wishes she could save the day with garlic pancakes. Instead, she must face the limits of her daydreams, and attempt to stop the monster her father has become."
About the Author: