Writing, Reading, and Smiling . . . It's Contagious.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Size Shoe Does a Sunflower Wear?

Q: What size shoe does a sunflower wear?

An object’s size can be measured in different ways with the aid of various tools. Similar methods can be applied to assess the size of an idea. One can measure its scope through the analysis of its birth, growth, maturation, and rebirth. My idea began at the age of seven and continues to thrive through the power of teamwork.

The idea?

Its symbol?
A sunflower.

The birth of an idea

Ideas can be created from the analogy of one’s surrounding environment, the musings of the imagination, or the gentle whisper of the wind.

When I was seven years old I unearthed a heavy black case from the bottom of a cluttered closet. Inside the dusty black leather was a shiny, powder blue typewriter with yellowed keys. My young fingers, despite their many scrapes from slipping between the keys, quickly learned to convey my imaginings onto paper. Let me back up...this became possible after my mother showed me how to roll the paper into the revolving drum. TEAMWORK.

Many stories and decades later I was a student studying English and publishing. Not only was I writing and receiving feedback from professors and peers, but I was also learning how to give help to other writers. TEAMWORK.

The growth of an idea

Like the birth of a seed, an idea requires patience and nurturing to grow.

I began writing short stories and small works of creative nonfiction. These were satisfying to a point, but the urge to create a larger, more involving work haunted me. Years passed and despite my yearning, I did not have the courage to begin. Then, a voice from a dear friend, E. Michaels, pushed me.

“Write,” the voice insisted.
“You know what to do. Just write.”

That’s what I did. I took the advice and wrote my first book, Dead Bird in the Weeds. TEAMWORK.

The maturation of an idea

Many times there are setbacks, but once the plant has matured, it will flower.

My book was finished, but life seized me and hindered the further development of my progression as a writer. Years passed and numerous obstacles barred opportunities. Then, a calamity turned into a breakthrough. It was not unlike the Twilight Zone episode wherein Burgess Meredith had to steal time to read. After a tragedy he has all the time in the world and is content to sit upon his mountain of books. However, unlike the fatal conclusion to his world, my “broken glasses” could be mended. Suddenly I had all the time in the world and the ability to use it wisely.

One morning over a leisurely bowl of cereal (I had all the time in the world, remember) I recalled something a cousin of mine said during a hot, boring summer evening.

“Wouldn’t it be great to own a bookstore, a small, quiet little place where people can read stimulating books?” she said.
Was she kidding? Who wouldn’t want to own a place like that?

She had given me an idea. TEAMWORK. I had to set it in motion, but I couldn’t do it alone. TEAMWORK.

I put down the cereal and contacted E. Michaels.

“Remember that book your wrote for your kids?” I challenged.
“What about it?”
“Get it ready for editing,” I said. “We’re going to have an online bookstore, ‘a small, quiet little place where people can read stimulating books.’”

Our creative brainstorming went on for hours, days, weeks. It could not be held back. TEAMWORK. Books were edited, proofread, and designed. Nearly a year had passed, but it had gone by quickly and productively.

Finally, we were ready to open the bookstore...except for one minor detail. What were we going to call this endeavor that had possessed us? I like gardening and sunflowers, and Michaels likes paths that lead to enchanted places. The answer was dancing before us. We were obviously and undeniably:

“Sunflower Footsteps”

Notice the five-headed flower and the two prints below it. TEAMWORK.


Mature plants bear seed.

This little garden we have planted has now matured into two published books:

It has also born seeds for four new books. This is more than amazing when I look back at my life and think of the fear I once had to write one book. Had it not been for TEAMWORK, I would be entangled in a quagmire of weeds and brambles.

That brings us back to the initial question:

Q: What size shoe does a sunflower wear?

A: It wears many different sizes because its measurement is constantly changing and unfolding before us.

For more information on Sunflower Footsteps, authors, and titles,
drop by our little bookstore at:



Thank you, teachers & professors, for believing in me:
Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Rankin, Mrs. May, Dr. Steffel,
Dr. Proaño, Larry, & Marcia

Thank you, Jeff, Ryan, Mandy, Sam, & Didi

Thank you, Mom, Dad, Granmaw, Pa, Beej, & A.J.

Thank you, God


As always, I love to hear from you. If you’re in the cyber-neighbourhood, drop me a line. In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling. It’s contagious.


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