The Golden Ticket

I loved Autumn’s inspiring post on Monday and it dovetailed with something I’ve been thinking about lately.

There’s a line in the movie YOU’VE GOT MAIL. Meg Ryan (a children’s bookstore owner in the film) remarks about the books we read as kids:

Because when you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity like no other reading can.”

I love this line because not only do I agree with it, but I have had that experience myself. One of the books that had that impact on me was CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl.

I believe most know the story, but for a quick catch up, the chocolate maker Willy Wonka is a mysterious, reclusive man. He puts 5 “golden tickets” into his candy wrappers, allowing each lucky finder to come for a full day to his chocolate factory along with a guest. Five children find the tickets but it’s only the fifth winner – Charlie Bucket – who is there after wanting it so desperately. The other four children exhibit a variety of bad behaviors that make them unsympathetic, unlikeable and itching to learn a lesson. Which Dahl then proceeds to do wonderfully!

While a romp about someone getting their come-uppance can always be fun, it’s the concept of the Golden Ticket that always captured my attention.

Through a child’s eyes, there’s something marvelous about the idea of a Golden Ticket. A magical pass that provides access to a world that’s inaccessible otherwise. As a child that’s a powerful idea. When we’re young the entire world seems like an inaccessible place – especially for us individually. We’re taught to hold an adult’s hand. Don’t go out alone. Don’t play in the street. On and on it goes, our world controlled for us by others.

It’s only after we grow up that we realize that there are no golden tickets awaiting us. Life isn’t nearly as binary or as simple, instead asking us to navigate our way through interpersonal relationships, job ups and downs, health situations and all the other things that come our way. It’s those journeys that we write about in our books and those journeys that ultimately make our lives interesting and ripe and rich with living.

It’s with that dose of honesty that I wanted to pose a bigger question. If we can accept that very little in life is binary – good or bad, happy or sad, fun or drudgery – why can’t we accept it about publishing? Why do we continue to believe publication is somehow a golden ticket? Or that the publication of our books will result in a publishing journey free of frustration, ripe with riches and as ever-green as an Everlasting Gobstopper.

Why do we put that sort of pressure on ourselves?

I know we’ve talked about it before but why can’t we find a way to decouple the reasons we gravitated toward writing in the first place – most often steeped in the love of story – and remove that love from the business. Publishing isn’t a Golden Ticket or a free pass or an answer to life’s ups and downs. Nor is it like most jobs, where hard work often begets a somewhat linear trajectory to additional responsibility or at least steady outcomes.

I know it’s hard. And to be honest, that’s always one of the things I’ve liked about publishing. Writing is hard enough, but having the willingness to put our work out there to others – well aware their reception may not match our expectations – is one of the bravest things we can do.

Happy Writing!



8 responses to “The Golden Ticket”

  1. joan ramirez says:

    I like the Golden Ticket. When I was a little girl, many of the kids at school called me a worm that crawled into a book because of my love of reading. I cried at home. My Mom told me, “You can never be lonely with a book in your hands because through your reading, you will make new friends.” She was right. Some of these “friends” inspired me to write my own children’s book.

    • Addison Fox says:


      That’s awesome that you channeled that experience into writing your own book!

      Thanks for joining us today!!

  2. Elizabeth Langston says:

    When I was in high school, I was an aide for my favorite teacher. I had to run errands for him all the time–and he got tired of writing my a hall pass. So one day, I got a sheet of paper and wrote “Ultimate hall pass for Beth: anywhere she wants to go, anytime she want to be there”.

    Your golden ticket reminded me of. My writing career should move where I want, when I want. And sometimes I forget that, and measure myself against standards that are not mine. My career hasn’t exactly done what I hoped, but I do have control of what to try next. And that I should be careful to keep from straying out of “this is fun” to “why am I doing this, again?”

  3. I love this post, Addison! My upcoming release actually focuses a lot on the concept of an emotional Golden Ticket – that expectation that if the right person loves us then all our internal struggles and insecurities will just vanish under the force of that love. It doesn’t always work like that. But it’s such a tempting concept! It’s so tempting to look for that thing that’s going to magically change everything. That’s the dream, isn’t it? I think it’s part of what makes Omaze campaigns so irresistible – the dream that if you were the one who won the magic ticket you wouldn’t JUST be going to the Avengers premiere with an actual Avenger, you would also have all your books optioned and made into films because they would love you so much, right? And Captain America would fall madly in love with you, forgoing his bachelor ways? I mean, OBVIOUSLY! Golden Tickets are everywhere. 😉

    • Addison Fox says:

      Vivi – your new book sounds amazing! And what an incredibly rich area to mine as an author. We have to find ways to find happiness in the craziness that is life. There is no perfect person – no soulmate golden ticket, as it were – but there is love. And goodness. And a path to happiness.

      I’m looking forward to this one!!

      And if Captain America does come calling ….

  4. Gwyn says:

    In a world drowning in shades of grey, the whole binary-thinking thing seems so dismissive and minimizing. And a Golden Ticket? Don’t we wish.

    Choices are key. If your daydreams of writing your way–or doing anything else, for that matter–to fame and fortune don’t materialize, choosing to be miserable about it serves no purpose. As the song says, “Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. And start all over again.”

    Round two could be your round–or not. Still, you never know until you try.

    BTW, if there IS a Golden Ticket out there, I call dibs. 😉

    • Addison Fox says:

      So wise, Gwyn. Like most things – our attitude ultimately shapes our experience.

      And I may fight you for that spot in line for the Golden Ticket 🙂


Subscribe to the Blog

The Latest Comments

  • Darynda Jones: I love this! I learned this fairly early as well. I also learned that sometimes I just have too many...
  • Heather McCollum: Thanks, Jenn! I forgot that you are also a free lance editor! Do you do both developmental and line...
  • Jennifer Bray-Weber: Very sound advice, Heather. I have done the same technique and often recommended it to some of...
  • Darynda Jones: Bwahahaha! I was so wondering where that was going! Did NOT see that coming. Great job, Evelyn!
  • April Mitchell: Congratulations Bonnie!