Thank You, John Lennon
For Fat Budgies and Purple Bumblebees
I’ve been writing all my life…well, at least since I was 12. Been published since I was 15. I started out small and local, like many writers do, and branched out from there.
I won’t drone on about what I’ve written and where it’s been published (because I’m a nobody author, really), but I will tell you (if you don’t already know) that writing can be grueling. It mostly is for me. And apparently, I’m not alone.
Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~ Joseph Heller
Writing, when it finally comes out the way you envisioned (or better) after many, many revisions, is also a rewarding achievement. It’s putting words to thoughts, experiences, and actions that have no words. Writing is about digging deep and finding the meaning hidden within our themes, once we figure out what those themes are.
When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time. ~ Lady Gaga
If I were a smoker, I’d light up a cigarette after a great writing session. But I don’t smoke. Instead, I walk around like a sleepwalker for a while, exhausted and smiling, not able to carry on a conversation, until I can coax my spirit back into my body.
Sometimes writing well means letting the reader figure out what’s happening by writing around a troubling scene. The subtext beneath the dialog and descriptions and actions. Like this famous six-word story:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn. ~ often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, but unsubstantiated
Writing is connecting with your reader. Writing is exposing meaning.
Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard. ~ David McCullough
By now I’ve learned those lessons (and more), but I didn’t know any of it when I first started writing at the age of 12.
What inspired me to begin traversing the writer’s route was a poem written by a certain Beatle.
I was the typical Beatles fan.
Loved them all.
Yeah yeah yeah’d all over the place.
But I was blown away when I saw John Lennon’s book of writings and drawings, In His Own Write.
And when he published a second book, A Spaniard in the Works, the world opened up for me.
One of John’s poems in his second book particularly inspired me. “The Fat Budgie” rocked my preteen world.
And I thought, Wow, if John Lennon can write like this, surely I can too.
I was naïve back then, if not charming. I knew nothing of the world or writing. I have no idea why I thought I could write as well as John, but in my innocence I indeed wrote a poem modeled after “The Fat Budgie.” I titled it “My Purple Bumblebee.” It was the first creative writing I’d ever done, and it wasn’t even a school assignment.
Here’s John’s poem…
The Fat Budgie
by John Lennon
I have a little budgie
He is my very pal
I take him walks in Britain
I hope I always shall.
I call my budgie Jeffrey
My grandads name’s the same
I call him after grandad
Who had a feathered brain.
Some people don’t like budgies
The little yellow brats
They eat them up for breakfast
Or give them to their cats.
My uncle ate a budgie
It was so fat and fair.
I cried and called him Ronnie
He didn’t seem to care.
Although his name was Arthur
It didn’t mean a thing.
He went into a pet shop
And ate up everything.
The doctors looked inside him,
To see what they could do,
But he had been too greedy
And died just like a zoo.
My Jeffrey chirps and twitters
When I walk into the room,
I make him scrambled egg on toast
And feed him with a spoon.
He sings like other budgies
But only when in trim
But most of all on Sunday
Thats when i plug him in.
He flies about the room sometimes
And sits upon my bed
And if he’s really happy
He does it on my head.
He’s on a diet now you know
From eating far too much
They say if he gets fatter
He’ll have to wear a crutch.
It would be funny wouldn’t it
A budgie on a stick
Imagine all the people
Laughing til they’re sick.
So that’s my budgie Jeffrey
Fat and yellow too
I love him more than daddie
And I’m only thirty-two.
And my gallant attempt at imitating John…
My Purple Bumblebee
by 12-year-old Wren Wright
I have a purple bumblebee
It buzzes round and round.
It buzzes round every tree
and buzzes round the ground.
My purple bumblebee was ill
Until he came to me.
I gave him jabs and a purple pill
To make him purple like me.
My bumblebee is three feet two
When standing on his feet.
Whenever he does something new
I slap him on his seat.
He buzzes every day at noon
And never, ever stops.
He makes the girls laugh and swoon
Someday I’ll call the cops.
My bumblebee is good and fat.
He eats and never ceases.
Once he caught a big red rat
And tore the thing to pieces.
I feed my bee potatoes and pork.
But alas! He likes it most of all
When I feed him with a fork —
That’s when he has a real ball.
My purple bumblebee does tricks
And pretty good, I must say, too.
He picks up purple elm tree sticks
And ties his purple shoe.
He laughs at me every day
And he never, ever fails.
When making honey, by the way,
It always comes out in pails.
My bumblebee’s name is Leroy Sin.
He sits on his perch for hours.
Mondays he never lets me in.
That’s when he takes his showers.
My purple bumblebee and me
Live in a glass-bottomed shoe.
I love my purple bumblebee
I love him through and through.
Not horrible for a 12-year-old, I suppose. It got me started.
Over the years, I discovered and honed my writing voice, which has gratefully never been heard or reviewed by any fat budgies or purple bumblebees…that I know of.
Although I’m much older now than John was when he left for other realms, I often think of how indebted I am to him for my start in writing. If John hadn’t written those two books, I may never have been inspired to imitate him, and I may never have discovered how wonderful it is to dig deeply into an idea then surface with the trophy of a lifetime — meaning and purpose and understanding.
And it all began because of an innocent misunderstanding — having the audacity at 12 years old to think I could write as well as John Lennon.
Writing has been the most mind blowing and chakra melting experience of my life. I’m forever deeply grateful to John for the kickstart and boost into the writer’s seat. Thank you, John, wherever you and the fat budgie are on the wing.
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