Friday, June 29, 2012

Mark Wahlberg Has Ted, but I Have Mr. Tudball

Me and Mr. Tudball today
Okay, so I saw the movie Ted today...and in honor of teddy bears everywhere, I decided to write a few words about mine.  (I promise this relates to writing.)

As you can see, Mr. Tudball is a little bit worse for wear.  I've had this bear as long as I can remember, which makes him nearly 35 years old.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't even the one to name him--how would a baby have come up with the name of the boss on the Carol Burnett show?  I don't even remember watching the Carol Burnett show.

What I do remember is taking him absolutely everywhere.  One time, my mom wanted to go to Kmart, and I wouldn't leave Mr. Tudball in the car.  I took him into the store, which resulted in us having to go all the way to the customer service counter in the back of the store so someone could wrap poor Mr. Tudball in this ugly yellow tape so the employees would know I hadn't stolen him.  I'm eternally grateful to my mom, who stood patiently and waited while all of this went on.  

As the years went by, Mr. Tudball sat in my room more than he accompanied me.  But he always held a place of honor among the other stuffed animals I acquired.  As you can see by his photo, at some point, I tried to use my Tinkerbell peel-off nail polish on him, as well as some crappy Tinkerbell lipstick.  (Do you guys remember Tinkerbell cosmetics?)  I sort of wish I hadn't done that, but then again, he's still alive to tell the tale, so no great harm was done.

1980:  Yep, me and Tudball were inseparable
Now, this adorable guy sits in my writing room and watches me while I work.  He sits very calmly, with one movable arm outstretched, and watches me write terrible sentences.  He watches me write awesome sentences.  He watches me delete and re-read and delete again.  He watches me get frustrated and cry and wonder why on earth I'm doing this.  Some days, he watches me slam the laptop shut in disgust at my inability to write something that an agent might actually want to read.  But no matter how my day goes, he's always there, waving at me.  It's weird, but it definitely makes me feel better about things.  No matter how badly I mess up, Mr. Tudball believes in me.
Circa 1981

In fact, one could make the argument that Mr. Tudball does the most important job of all--he reminds me that it doesn't matter how many agents reject my work.  He reminds that I'm writing for him.  My original audience.  Which is to say, people who like the same things I do.  If, some days, it seems like there aren't that many of us out there, it doesn't matter.  At the end of the day, Mr. Tudball still wants me to write something for him.  And I still want to write something for Mr. Tudball.

Some people might think it's a bit ridiculous for a 35-year-old person to use a teddy bear as a motivational tool.  (My husband springs to mind here.)  But anyone who's ever tried writing and then submitted that writing to an agent or a journal knows that some days, you'll take inspiration wherever you can find it.  Some days, I feel like Mr. Tudball is all I have...and all I'll ever have.  But other days, he has a few fellow fans in his corner who gather together to cheer me on.  On the days that are awesome and the days that are not, he's always there, in my writing room, wondering what I'll come up with next.
1982:  Still inseparable

Cheers to you, Mr. Tudball.