melissaguionby Melissa Guion

Welcome to your 19th day of PiBoIdMo, everyone! Wow, you guys are amazing, and maybe a tiny bit crazy! You’re going through with this thing! How are you doing? Are ideas coming to you? Has the well run dry? If so, here’s one I was saving for a rainy day: “alpaca inherits disused windmill.” You can have it. Don’t tell Tara!

Now freshen up your coffee because we’re going to talk about…


It’s a scam. That’s my honest two cents. I don’t even know why I put it in bold type. Here are some reasons it stinks.


The shenanigans start with a young lady in Ancient Greece. She’s 14—high time she married the aging polygamist down the road, says dad! But our girl is a step ahead of the game. She just got a job relaying divine messages from Apollo, and she has to remain a virgin for him! I don’t know about you but I’m already suspicious.


Does girlfriend get to have clandestine sex with gods? Maybe. Does she hang out in a cave breathing intoxicating fumes? Once a week, which is a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you feel about vaping. She’s the most revered figure in ancient Greek society. That means gold jewelry, fancy dinners and spa days. And she’s free to speak gibberish, which handlers translate for her credulous visitors: “She said ‘you may never not defeat the Spartans/why does this lamb stew taste so amazing?’”

Sure, Apollo told her to say that. I almost forgot: she gets three months’ vacation. No surprise oracles started popping up on every corner. I’m declaring it the world’s first really great grift.


If you’re picturing the rock band from Detroit with a singing drummer, I’m not talking about them. They’re legit. I’m talking about the artists and writers of late 18th and early 19th-century Europe. They were obsessed with finding inspiration, especially after a juicy excerpt from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience ran in Marie Claire’s September 1794 issue.

According to the Romantics, artists harness the divine when they create their work. Not everyone can do it, though. God only talks to geniuses! How did that theory serve our creative forebears? It justified chronic procrastination. It was also good for starting drunken fights about who’s a genius and who isn’t. And it was a compelling argument when begging your dentist for opium, as you see in the following historical exchange:

PERCY SHELLEY: I wish I had more opium.
SHELLEY’S DENTIST: I’m sorry, Lord Shelley, I cannot responsibly give you any more opium.
SHELLEY: I guess you don’t want me to realize my genius.
(SHELLEY’S DENTIST sighs, gives SHELLEY more opium.)

I apologize if I’m bursting anyone’s bubble with this. I just want you to be aware that a person who goes on about inspiration is hoping to rob you or use you to get drugs. Does this apply to my fellow guest-bloggers? I don’t know them all personally, but I’m going to say yes. Maybe not Jane Yolen, she’s a hard worker. It’s certainly true of the illustrators. You’re better off trusting a carney.

So where does this leave you? At your desk, where you belong! And when you lack an idea? My advice is, have a sandwich. Take a nap. Try again tomorrow. Stay away from gods and dentists. Listen to Jane Yolen.


babypenguinsMelissa Guion is the author and illustrator of BABY PENGUINS EVERYWHERE! (Philomel 2012) which was selected for The Original Art 2012 and has just been reissued as a board book. Her second book, BABY PENGUINS LOVE THEIR MAMA, arrives in January.

Visit Melissa online at or follow her on Twitter @MelissaGuion.


Melissa is giving away a signed copy of BABY PENGUINS EVERYWHERE! and (vegan, opium-free) penguin gummies to snack on while you read it.

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!