Literary License, Taken Literally

Earlier this week, I got a great rejection letter from a terrific agent I’d love to work with. It’s still early times for me with cold querying, so I haven’t entirely figured out a strategy yet for hedging against disappointment. By the time this agent rejected my full manuscript, I’d managed to construct quite a fantasy life around how she was going to ride into my life on a white horse and launch my career.

To try to explain to non-writer friends how I could be elated by the agent’s praise but still bummed out over the lost connection, I told everyone I talked to that I felt as if someone had sat on my imaginary friend and squashed her.

Yesterday morning, my warm, sleepy five-year-old son climbed into bed with me and rested his head on my shoulder. “Mommy,” he asked, his sweet little voice full of worry. “Who squashed your imaginary friend?”

“Oh, bud!” I said. “No, no. No one really sat on my imaginary friend. I was just trying to explain a way that I felt. I felt sad the way I’d feel if someone did that. But–” I put on the tones of total maternal authority. “No one can sit on your imaginary friend. It just can’t happen.”

Reassured, he snuggled up against me and threw an affectionate arm over his imaginary friend, resting on his other side.

The moral, I think, is to use extreme caution in constructing both fantasies and analogies.