Greetings, salutations and hearty hellos to our vast and amazing audience. Although Scribillare is a mere speck in the vast digital ocean we know that you being here is not happenstance but instead a purposeful choice. Today we welcome another new contributor to our growing ranks. Daniel Rule works exclusively now in marketing and although reading that might make you want to scroll on to another piece of creative writing , instead, take a moment and give him a chance. Not all corporate shills started out that way.
Do you know what a vanity publisher is? No, I’m really asking you if you know. For years I’ve used the term loosely to insult people who pay large sums to book publishers who will bind and push their tome regardless of quality. As an avid reader, I think I assumed that this distaste was stemming from some kind of high concept source of “oh well I read books by real authors who have to earn their publishing. ” Not so! Apparently I was riled up whenever I heard someone paid to have their book printed for a single reason and that reason was tied to a gift I received nearly 25 years previous…and had forgotten all about.
The year was 1990 and I was a five year old kid. I probably liked what most five year olds like then : cartoons, chicken nuggets, playing outside, yelling for no reason, etc. My mother and father were in their early thirties and had settled into a lower middle class lifestyle in New Jersey. Suburb, cul-de-sac, potluck parties with the neighbors and all the American normal childhood background pieces surrounded me. As a burgeoning nerd I also enjoyed books immensely although at five years old it was definitely more Richard Scarry than Charles Dickens. I think I was becoming a nerd then but cannot be sure. As most memories of my younger years I find there’s a haze that is mostly cleared only by the recollections and memories of the people around me instead of what feels like my actual own memories.
Suffice to say I was excited to spend time in New York with my maternal Grandmother when the opportunity arose and my only fond memories of her during this time were comprised of those train trips to the Natural History museum there in NY. The obvious interest can be described in a simple phrase : duh, dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were (and are) pretty dang awesome and I was extremely happy to be seeing their towering bones. At some point I must have seriously expressed interest in said dinosaurs because I received a gift from my Grandmother in the form of a book titled “Danny & The Dinosaur. ” By all parental accounts I adored this book. It starred a central character, a young boy named Danny, who fell asleep and dreamed he was hanging out with real dinosaurs, riding them and generally having a great time.
The names of my uncles were placed in the book as well towards the end in a sort of Wizard Of Oz wake-up scene motif where Danny figures out it was all a dream but of course knows there really was some kind of magical adventure despite logic. You can see where this is going : the book was created by a vanity publisher of sorts. You plug in the name of your grand kid, his parents and uncles, then voila, here’s a personalized book that makes a great gift. Obviously I was a fan of it because having found it in a box recently it’s all kinds of “reading worn.”
I hate this book. The reason why is partly because that side of my family doesn’t communicate with my immediate family any more. They essentially disowned my own mother, who is amazing, in favor of this maternal Grandmother, who is a monstrous creature who uses inheritance money to puppet her children. My mom didn’t dance but her brothers do so when I see “Uncle Jim” and “Uncle Matt” in Danny & The Dinosaur, it makes me physically ill. They’re turds, essentially. The rise of negative emotion then immediately makes me realize that at one point there was nothing better than going on a museum trip with Grandma, pulling Uncle Jim’s finger for a fart sound or hearing Uncle Matt’s big booming laugh when he thought I was particularly funny.
I can’t go back to hang out with those dinosaurs and I can’t go back to hanging out with that part of my extended family. That’s why I hate this book and it’s definitely why, with no real facts, I hate vanity publishers.
Dinosaurs are still pretty cool though.
Oh the long corridor of memory that connects our youth to our today! Tune in next time right here at Scribillare for another sojourn into creative writing from people who probably have no right to try it – just like the rest of us. Farewell.