This is really one of the most magnificent children’s books. In typical Maurice Sendak style, it is about danger, and fear, and safety weighed against adventure and experience. I absolutely love it.
As a kid, when I had this read to me I was always quite unhappy that 1) Jennie left her owner who loved her, 2) that she ate her plant, and 3) that she had to face a lion. I was scared every single time I read it. But I still loved it.
Starting to write fiction feels a little bit like putting my head inside the lion’s mouth. I know it is good experience, but it just might be the end of me. It was amazingly hard to get past the first paragraph of my first novel. My fingers would hover over the keyboard, and I had to physically restrain myself from deleting everything I had written. It’s not that I have no confidence that I can write something decent; it’s that I am constantly sure that the sentence I just wrote is absolute crap, while if I just erase it and try again I’ll be much better.
This is garbage, of course. I could spend the next 10 years this way and be lucky to wind up with a haiku. So I don’t delete, I remind myself that no one needs to see this stupendously bad writing, and I try to keep going. That method got me through the 75,000 words of my first novel, which I am currently convinced is a crime against nature. But I will give it some time to breathe without my hovering, and return to it next month and decide if it is actually something, that someday, I might want to share with the world. In the meantime, I open a new document, take a deep breath, and stick my head back in the lion’s mouth.