Tag Archives: children’s book

RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER – His Story In His Own Words

This Nose So Bright
A Memoir
by Rudolph the “Red-Nosed” Reindeer

©ColumbiaRecords
©ColumbiaRecords
Hi there, I’m Rudolph the Reindeer.  You might not recognize my name without the words “red-nosed” included in it.  I suppose that’s fair.  Chances are most people are familiar with me from the Christmas song based upon my life.  I feel like it’s time I take a moment to shine a light (pun intended) on the real story and clear up any misconceptions the song might have caused.

I guess I should start by saying that I do actually like that classic tune.  Somewhere along the way people seemed to get the impression that I don’t care for it.  I mean, am I crazy about being defined solely by my red nose?  Not totally.  After all, who wants to be defined by a single trait, am I right?  I’m also a pretty decent hoofhockey player, but you don’t hear people singing any folksy tunes about that.  But hey, I’m proud of my nose and my journey so, yeah, I dig it.

The first part of the song, while painfully blunt, does a pretty good job of describing what I like to think of as my “radical facial nonconformity.”  Yes, my nose is very shiny, and I suppose if one feels compelled then one could even go so far as to say it glows.  The problem of course is that I had to endure many years of others pointing at my nose and saying, “Ha!  Ha!  Rudolph’s nose is so shiny it literally glows!”  Yeah, that left a few scars on my psyche.

My parents saw the potential for this kind of ridicule pretty much from the time I was born.  Although they worried about how others’ reactions to my nose might affect me, they completely accepted me as I was and loved me just like any other cloven-hooved animal would love a child.

Being on the cautious side, they got me checked over by a reindoctor to make sure it wasn’t a tumor.  Turns out, it’s simply an extremely rare congenital skin condition that can affect reindeer noses, known as Crubrum Nasum.  For better or worse, I happen to have been blessed with a particularly pronounced case of it.

To be completely honest, as a youngster I nearly got sick of my parents telling me about how my red nose made me “special,” and how “lucky” I was to be “unique.”  After a while I was like, “Okay, I get it!  I’m a special flower!  Alright already!”  But I knew they meant well.  Looking back, I’m not sure if they were trying to build me up to face the harsh cruelties of the world or if they were wise enough to know that what makes us different is often where our greatness lies.

While it’s true that reindeer laughed, only a few called me names.  The worst were Dasher and Dancer.  Those guys were always the biggest in the class and best at all the reindeer games.  You know, “The Cool Kids.”  They were relentless.  On top of the name calling, they once spread a rumor that if you stared directly at my nose you would go blind… it actually made some of my more gullible classmates afraid to look at me.

Even though they never let me join in any reindeer games, I wouldn’t say, “poor Rudolph.”  I found other ways to occupy myself.  For example, I spent many hours in the library learning about global weather patterns and memorizing Santa’s Christmas Eve delivery route.  I taught myself how to control my nose’s brightness, and with time and great concentration, even learned how to blast light directly out in front of me like a beacon.  It was like having a super power!  Well, except that I didn’t know what good it would do anyone.

The song sort-of glosses over my young adulthood.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I struggled to find my niche.  I think that’s a common experience when you’re first starting out in the world, no matter your unique qualities or species.  I guess my best advice is just to say enjoy the journey – try lots of things.  You never know when you might find that perfect fit or when it might find you.

And that’s how it happened for me…

“Then one foggy Christmas Eve” I found myself wandering around downtown Santa’s Village, not sure what I was going to do.  I was in quite a funk.  I’d just been let go from a job as a stage hand at The Ice Palace Theatre, because the elf who was Artistic Director complained you could see my nose shining off stage during the darkly lit scenes of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.  Hey, I didn’t want to cover it up, I’ve got to breathe through this thing!

I pretty much had the streets to myself, because it was so foggy I guess most folks had a hard time seeing, which had never been an issue for me.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Santa himself appeared in front of me looking quite frazzled and said those now-immortal words I will never forget, “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

I thought, “Oh my gosh!  This is it!”  All those years of study and hard work; it was as if I had been preparing for this moment without even realizing it.  Of course, I jumped for joy and said to Santa, “You bet!”  The elves practically had to hold me down as they hitched me to the front of Santa’s team!

Although the night was the foggiest on record, Santa managed to make all of his deliveries in record time.  Ha, and I don’t think Dasher and Dancer were too thrilled about staring at my hind end all night long!

Oh, and that bit about how all the reindeer loved me and they shouted out with glee… yeah, that really happened – on Christmas morning when we returned to the North Pole.  Except it wasn’t just the reindeer, it was also the elves, woodland creatures, Mrs. Claus, and The Big Man himself!  I’ll be honest – it felt good.  But I think what made it feel the best was that my Mom and Dad were there to see it.  All those years they’d spent reassuring me that everything would be okay; that my silly old nose wasn’t a curse, but a blessing…

So, there it is.  Listen to the people in your life who believe in you and tell you that you matter.  Trust those who tell you that you’re good enough and that if you work hard and believe in yourself things will work out in the end.  Because, you know what?

They’re right.

 

FROM THE AUTHOR, MATT VASKO:
I hope you enjoyed this retelling of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer's story as told from his own perspective. While I like the song, I've always thought it portrayed Rudolph as somewhat of a victim. My goal was to give Rudolph the chance to take his story back and reframe it in a more positive way. Hopefully, it appeals to children and adults alike. I welcome your feedback. 
Merry Christmas!

Where the Heck Have I Been?!

If you have been a devoted follower of my blog since I started it last summer, then you’ve probably been wondering where the heck I’ve been for the past few months. The truth is that I took a couple of weeks off to focus on finishing my children’s book and a couple of weeks quickly turned into three months.

One of the harshest realizations I’ve had since deciding to pursue writing as a profession is that being at home with my kids doesn’t allow me as much time to write as would be optimal. I thought that I would be able to do social media marketing management part time, write part time, and parent the rest of the time. It’s turned out that once I’ve finished my part time social media management work while my kids are at their ½ day preschool – I usually have about an hour before I have to get back to parenting full time again. Significant chunks of time to work on writing projects are few and far in between.

Trying to keep up with the blog and write a book felt like too much. So, I decided I’d sneak away from Super Eclectica for a couple of weeks to finish my first kid’s book. All went according to plan until I finished the book and decided that I didn’t want that to be the first book I would attempt to get published. It’s a Christmas book and it didn’t seem as marketable as another book idea that I had on the way-back burner. So, I decided that since I’d taken time away from the blog I should just launch straight into that project. Which I did… and am still doing… but it’s not done yet… and the blog has been languishing.

Eventually, the pull to come back to consistently posting to my blog became too much… and here I am. I’m back, baby! And I have a new commitment to you, the reader. I will now be posting to Super Eclectica every Wednesday come hell or high water. Why? Because it matters. Because YOU matter.

To help get things started with a bang, tomorrow I will be featuring my first blog post from a guest writer. She’s an English professor at Citrus College in Glendora, California, and she’s written an entertaining piece about how she uses “50 Shades of Gray” to teach grammar, entitled, “50 Shades of Grammar.” I guarantee you’re gonna love it.

Thanks for tuning in and I’ll be seeing you regularly!

So, How’s the Writing Going?

I’m fortunate to have supportive friends and family members that are enthusiastic about my transition to a freelance writing career.  When I visit with them the question that invariably comes up is “So, how’s the writing going?”

For their sakes – and for the sake of anyone in the whole wide world that might be reading this – I’m pleased to say that it is going well!

Here’s the latest:

I’m writing every day.  It’s been a lot like working out.  My writing has become stronger the more I have been doing it and I’ve become able to write more in less time.  My proof reading skills, clarity, and agility at rewriting have also improved (but I suppose you can judge some of that for yourself).

I’ve been studying hard and beefing up my knowledge of social media and SEO writing.  My goal is to become an expert in the area in order to maximize my marketability.  I approached a friend at EnnouncementCards.com and asked her if I could interview her about her experience employing people to manage her social media and SEO.  We had a phone meeting that helped me gain perspective into the kinds of things that will best help me serve clients.

…A couple of weeks later she contacted me and said that the person that handled their social media part time had taken on other commitments and had given notice.  She stated that she was impressed with my knowledge when we spoke and wanted to know if I would want to take over managing their social media.  I was delighted by the opportunity, and began working for them at the beginning of August.  It’s been a fantastic experience so far.  She has been pleased with my work and the boost in Facebook page likes, reach and engagement that I have quickly been able to attain.  I enjoy writing the short bursts of creative copy and doing some light graphic design.  I am also excited that my decision to make this transition to freelance writing has resulted in employment in short order.  That has been a big encouragement.

This morning, I completed a 2,400 word sermon that I will be giving at my church (Neighborhood UU Church of Pasadena, CA) later this month.  It is the culmination of work that I began in Dr. Rev. Jim Nelson’s sermon writing class that I took in the spring called “Preacher in You.”  It has been a wonderful spiritual and intellectual journey and I’m excited to see how it will be received.  Wish me luck!

I’m working my way through the next rewrite on my children’s book tentatively titled, “A Gift for Emily.”  This time around I am using Ann Whitford Paul’s “Writing Picture Books” as my guide.  Since this is my first crack at writing a children’s book it seemed logical to take a structured approach such as this.  My friend and mentor Sean Diviny, author of “Snow Inside the House” and “Halloween Motel” has also been a huge asset to me in this process.

I have an outline mapped out in my brain for my entry into the Real Simple life lessons essay contest.  That’s my next project.  It will be my first entry into a writing contest since my short play “Spin Cycle” won the The New American Theatre One Act Festival contest about a decade ago.

I will begin applying for more freelance jobs in September, when my twins start preschool.  Right now, my plate is as full as time allows (I’m writing this blog entry while the kids are napping).  I’ve subscribed to the Media Bistro Morning Media Newsfeed and FreelanceWriting.com’s Morning Coffee eNewsletter, and both seem like they will be excellent sources for job leads when the time comes.

Oh… and I’m writing a blog.  You might have heard of it.  It’s called Super Eclectica and I write about everything from adventures in parenting to advice for in-laws to – pause for dramatic effect – how my writing is going.  You should totally subscribe to it.

Writing with Both Feet

Here’s something you might not know about me – especially if you don’t know me.  I’ve been itching to be a full time writer for about seven years.  I’ve been writing for my whole-entire adult life, about 20 years to be less vague.  Stuff I’ve written include spec television scripts, short films, one-act plays, standup comedy, sketch comedy, and even educational content for an online university.  I’ve enjoyed it all, but there wasn’t enough paid work to necessitate quitting my day job.  Of course, a large part of the reason that there wasn’t much paid work was due to the fact that I never really pursued paid work.  I mostly just wrote whatever the heck I wanted to write for pleasure or to enter into competitions and festivals.

Then, last year, my wife who had been a kick-ass stay-at-home Mom to our twins for three years received an offer to return to her marketing and PR career.  It was a dream job for her and she was stoked about doing it.  So, we made the decision to trade places.  She would return to the workforce and I would get the opportunity to do something that I never thought in a million billion trillion years I’d ever have the chance to do – be a stay-at-home Dad to our three-year-olds.  I’m pleased to report that the three of us are still alive and doing well, and my wife is rockin’ her new job.

Cut to this fall:  The twins start preschool (we were going to start them last year, but I was selfish and decided that I wanted a year with them before I had to give them up for part of the day).  I still want them all to myself, of course, but they are turning four soon, we want them to have a year of preschool before they start kindergarten, and so this is happening.  The upside is that it means I’ll have time carved into my schedule when I can write with regularity, plus whatever amount of sleep I’m willing to give up to write (which is when I write, now).

So, here’s the plan… I’m going to make a real go of it!  Presently, I’m putting the finishing touches on a children’s book and have two more in the works.  I have tentative plans to write an hour-long drama spec.  Oh yeah, and I started a blog (it’s called “Super Eclectica” and it’s really great – you should totally check it out.  I wrote this one piece about how I’m launching my writing career.  It’s poignant and powerful.  Real Rocky Balboa, root for the underdog kind of stuff).  I’ll also be applying for freelance writing gigs.

So, I’m jumping in with both feet.  I’ll write until my fingers are nubs and then tape Lego Duplos to the nubs and keep on writing until I make it.  When the time comes that we planned for me to rejoin the workforce I will have to not-to, because I will be writing full time and earning enough money for my wife and me to reach our financial goals.

Can I do it?  Stay tuned and find out!