There are moments in life that are so full that one moment can’t contain itself. There are moments so profoundly intense that one moment spills over to the next, and the next, and so on, until all future moments become tinged with the color of sorrow, or laughter, or pain, or bliss, or anger, or whatever that moment contained, that it could not fully contain.

So as not to lose these moments, in the inevitable morphing of past and present, I have decided to write a series entitled: “What was I thinking?” In this series, I will share what these books mean to me, and why I wrote each of them, but would also invite my readers to share what comes up for them as well.


What was I thinking when I wrote about an octopus who could not contain her ink? Olyvianna, the first book published, though not the first written, was most definitely the one I felt would be the most favorably received. Who has not ever had intrinsic traits that embarrassed them? Who has not had the most embarrassing moments where those traits were exposed for all to see? Who has not had difficulty controlling one’s own urges? And who does not have moments still trapped in memory that lurk, and haunt, and spill forward into unwary present moments? “Olyvianna the Incontinent Octopus” is the book that resonates with the most readers.

What was I thinking when I described a plight so pathetic as to be almost laughably humorous? A plight that many of us have experienced, but few discuss openly without resorting to laughter to temper the stress of release? Sometimes, despite all the metaphoric wiggling and jiggling, we do to hold some moments inside, they still explode into the present all that much faster. Sometimes, only laughter can help us transform them into something that can be expressed.

What was I thinking when I wrote of others who did not understand, yet continued to stick around, despite the dark emissions? The scrutiny of peers is a powerful force, and the possibility of ridicule can trigger moments that bleed forth and color events into what is feared, though not actually occurring. Sometimes we are the ones who see jeering in every puzzled look. Sometimes we are the friends who stand loyally by, being silently accused of our mere presence.


What was I thinking when I wrote a story that did not follow the “prescription” ending? I didn’t encourage her to try harder, to conform or to be “good.” I didn’t aggrandize the offensive behavior and build her up to be better than anyone else. I didn’t offer up the obvious solution, for sometimes the obvious… that of, “don’t ink anymore”… is just not possible, for those with the deepest wells of moments stored within.

Sometimes the answer is counter-intuitive. Sometimes, to escape the Chinese finger puzzle, one needs to stop struggling to pull them apart. Sometimes, to escape the dark miasma of collective moments, one needs to stop struggling to hold them within. Sometimes, against intuitive sense, one learns control through expression, rather than repression.

Some who have read this story immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was a potty-training book. Others have felt it was targeting behavioral problems, such as temper tantrums. Others have seen this book as a tool for coping with deeper psychological issues, such as PTSD, Tourette’s syndrome, or Dissociative Disorders. It is now your turn to decide what you are thinking as you read the book.

A story is like a child. We can conceive it, nurture it, and present it to the world, but inevitably it becomes what is perceived by the receiver… and is no longer what was intended.

What were you thinking?!!!

More writings from Cindy Graves can be found at www.echoesoms.com.