Optimism vs. Delusional Thinking

I’ve had Terry Gross in my shower countless times.

“Brooke, thank you so much for joining us on Fresh Air,” she always says.

“Thanks, Terry. It’s always a pleasure,” I say.

Sometimes she asks some tough questions. “Yes, Terry, this was a particularly difficult book to write. But after discovering the lost city of Atlantis I just…hold on, let me put in the conditioner…I felt an unspoken connection with the people who once thrived there…”

I have it on good authority that I’m not the only one making the rounds to all the hip talk radio programs from the comfort of my shower. I don’t think this quirk of the imagination is limited to writers. Everyone gets caught up in daydreams of success and renown once in a while, right?

But I think the difference between us and the general populace is that we’re actually putting our dreams into the mouth of the car crusher.

Brave Little Toaster is probably responsible for all of my adult phobias.

You’d think with my file folder full of bland rejection emails that I’d have learned to reign it in and not get my hopes up.

But no. I am a naive optimist. An ingenue. A sap. I am thoroughly convinced it’s only a matter of time before the Paris Review somehow gets wind of the stories that I haven’t even written yet and begs for a piece of my creative pie.  Or Matt Weiner receives those telepathic messages I’ve been sending him every night and calls me up and invites me to write for his next project.

I guess that’s less naive optimism and more optimistic delusions.

I love and fear this movie. Seriously.

But when your file folder is really starting to look digitally full (full of rejections even from online-only magazines that don’t pay a dime) you need something to keep you going.

Like, a couple months ago I had sent out poems to three different magazines and was still waiting to hear back from any of them. I kept thinking, what if they all send me acceptance letters at exactly the same time? How would I be able to choose without burning bridges?

I told KD this during one of our habitual drives together. I said, “Best case scenario is they each want a different poem and I get paid to publish all three!”

She laughed and told me to write about it.

KD’s pretty good at humoring me.

I haven’t finished writing the first draft of my first novel. I have no idea what my thesis is going to be. This blog has under sixty followers at the moment.

But then, a year and a half ago I was dreaming of getting into grad school, having a lot of fake conversations with admissions staff. And then I got into Stony Brook and they gave me a neat prize for fiction and everything.

So, hopefully I haven’t irrevocably offended the real Terry Gross with my quippy, irreverent hook.

And if I have, well, at least imaginary Terry Gross will never abandon me.

If you’ve never seen this movie then you definitely need to watch it.

***By the way! I got an email from Brian Lewis, the editor at Spark, saying that the discount codes for An Unlikely Companion have been reset and don’t expire until the end of the year.

Which means, you can order the book and use the promo-code “KOLCOW-FRIENDS” at checkout to receive 30% off your order.

And if you missed my post about all my friends’ work, go check it out!


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