Inspired by Ego

Thursday’s Children, 30 May 2013


Last week I had a short story published, The Cheese Man (read the full story here ). The story is about a man with a van, but instead of the ice cream van we all remember from our childhoods, the cheese man owns a cheese van. The story tells of his desire to become a cheese man, his studies and the work it took. The story was originally a joke email about my own childhood, basically I was clowning around with friends when I should have been working all those years ago.

Many years ago when I was still living in England I worked as a data manager on a trading floor. It was open plan, noisy (about 500 traders, desk assistants and researchers), messy, crowded and the perfect environment to crush any creativity that might be waiting to break free. I had 4 monitors on my desk, each one ‘tuned’ to a specific financial website. One had a constant news feed scrolling across the bottom and was supposed to keep me informed of financial news. I, being me, changed the settings so that I only saw the ‘odd’ news. Quirky scientific discoveries, funny people doing silly things, nothing remotely market related. I used to email some of these stories to my friends around the world, because everyone needs an amusing story to keep them going. One, about a woman who had hoarded 157 Chihuahuas (this was before ‘Hoarders’ hit both the boob tube and public consciousness), led me to a short story about feral Chihuahuas attacking a city. Anyway. It was fun and kept me sane.


My friends had gotten used to the silliness that arrived daily from my email address so I guess it was a shock when, during a discussion of our favourite childhood memories, I started talking seriously but fondly about my own childhood: growing up in a new housing neighbourhood, getting to know the other kids, playing cherished childhood games like Kick the Can and Red Rover. The joy of hearing the sound of the van, off in the distance, that created so much excitement. Everywhere, kids ran to parents for pocket change, and we all waited on the corner for the van to appear. Except in my email the van was the cheese van, not the ice cream van.

icecream van

It was silly enough for my friends to praise the joke, which of course only made things worse because after that I was determined to bring the cheese man fully to life. For no other reason than the potential adulation of friends. Ahh, the fragile ego of the writer, what won’t we do (on paper! keep it clean, people!) to get more of that magic elixir, praise?

I’m sure I still do it, write to get myself noticed. Just never managed to grow out of that ‘look at me! look at what I did!’ stage that kids go through. It seems that once we’re all grown up, the occasions for getting pats on the back become fewer and farther between. Sure, a raise at the office kind of counts, but it’s just not the same as someone saying to your face, ‘I really liked that story you wrote.’ THAT feeling, the glow, the pride, the ‘I can do anything’ mood that lasts for at least ten minutes, there’s nothing like it.

Ooh, just got an email from my friend, she loved a story I wrote. Awesome, I’m off to sort out the situation in the Middle East, end world hunger and arrange world peace.

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16 comments on “Inspired by Ego

  1. ddfalvo says:

    Wait. You mean there really wasn’t a chessman in your childhood? Oh. And I was imagining cheese pops and the like–and, just kidding! Though I’m sure your story is lots of fun. Peeps love to be entertained, it’s a good feeling to put a smile on someone’s face–like you just did now. 😀

  2. ddfalvo says:

    Yeah, I write. But I typo lots, too. *cheeseman. 😛

  3. sugaropal says:

    Oh, I like the evil possessed chessman idea, and maybe he can be “in cahoots” with the feral chihuahuas (and aren’t all chihuahuas feral, anyway?). Congratulations on your publication! It’s amazing how one “I loved it” can turn your whole day/week/month around, eh? Writer’s egos are a strange combo of fragile and robust – we clearly think we have something to say that the rest of the world should hear, yet many of us are so easily hurt by anything less than full-out praise.

    • kellyewrites says:

      Seriously, that feral Chihuahua idea went around for more than a year! I once also wrote a novelette (sp?) for my friend, written in the style of Jane Austen, about Dick Longsword, the secret son of the Earl of Peebles, and Grace, who swoons a lot and falls in love with him. Okay, more ‘Clarissa’ but you get the idea.

      • sugaropal says:

        Dick Longsword? Was it an erotic novelette?

      • kellyewrites says:

        Not exactly. I don’t really do ‘serious’ (in writing or in life), especially with mushy stories, just don’t have it in me. It was more of what the English refer to as ‘taking the mickey’, ie making fun of in a gentle sort of way. I have been thinking of reworking it, see if I can’t do something with it.

  4. T.F.Walsh says:

    What a cool concept… a cheeseman… would surely trick a lot of kids…:)

  5. Mia Celeste says:

    You have an interesting mind. 🙂 I bet your stories are really fun.

  6. Dannie Morin says:

    ice cream vans are a theme in my social media today. Someone on twitter said they saw one IRL that was full of clowns *shudder* Good luck with that whole world peace thing. 😉
    ~Dannie @ Left to Write

  7. I sometimes think those most serious (uncreative) jobs can fire the creativity by their sheer nature. It’s like the creative part of your brain is so disengaged from what’s going on it has a free rein to dream up all sorts out loveliness – like cheesemen. Love it, sounds like something Dr Who would be interested in.

    • kellyewrites says:

      Wow, you can be my new best friend, I love Doctor Who! Yeah, I work in finance, it’s pretty dull most of the time, thankfully I can think about other things while working. Like cheesemen taking over the world!

      • Any friend of the Doctor! I can just see Matt Smith standing in a playground ‘Clara, where are the children?’ *brandishes sonic screwdriver as old fashioned icecream truck music can be heard faintly in the distance*…

  8. Laura Oliva says:

    Totally know what you mean: my ego gets squirrelly if I don’t feed it daily. Thanks for a great post!

  9. Karen lee says:

    You go! I’ll take one of those humorous stories sent to my e-box. 🙂

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