Wednesday, October 17, 2007
What the Heck?
During my sophomore year of high school, my English class term paper assignment was to write about an American author or poet. For whatever reason (it was forty years ago and the reason eludes me), I chose Ogden Nash.
For those of you who aren't English majors (PC, Angel and Lynn may let their minds wander for a few moments), Ogden Nash was best known for his light, funny verse.
A good example of his writing is this parody of Joyce Kilmer.
I think that I shall never see
a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.
Another of his famous observations is
Okay, PC, Angel and Lynn can tune back in now.
I did my research, and believe me, there's not nearly as much info on old Ogden as there was on Longfellow or Poe. But I persisted.
And then one day I found a research book with an old address for Mr. Nash and thought "What the heck?" I penned a short letter and sent it off thinking I'd at least done everything I could to get as much information as possible.
Imagine my surprise when a letter from Ogden Nash arrived at my house. The man himself wrote and gave me some info I'd not been able to find anywhere else. And in the bibliography I was able to cite "Personal letter from Ogden Nash to Marilyn Lyerly, November 22, 1966."
Boy oh boy did that earn me brownie points with my English teacher. Heck, I even got to take it and show it to the head of the English department, who was also duly impressed.
What if I hadn't thought "What the heck?" and hadn't written? I'm pretty sure I'd have received the same grade, but that little added bonus of the letter made a big impression on my teachers. They knew I was willing to step out and take a chance, which was a big step for someone who'd lived most of her life in fear -- fear of trying, fear of failing, fear of rejection, fear of succeeding. That letter gave me a little extra self-confidence to try something bigger next time.
I still struggle with all those fears, but I've learned to step out and say "What the heck?" and ask a well-known author to guest blog or do an interview for the website. Our mantra here at the Playground is "All they can say is no."
What's your "What the heck?" moment?
P.S. Yes, I still have the letter. See below.