Advice from a Stranger

About James Whitcomb Riley:

He was so HUGE back in his day. A total rock star. His birthday was a national school holiday. He earned the equivalent of $65 million in his lifetime. He rocked bachelorhood his entire life, never marrying and never settling down. He toured with Mark Twain and Bill Nye and enjoyed correspondence with the author of The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling. He was legendary. Over 100 years later, people have barely heard of the guy. What kind of legacy is that?! 

He's this huge enigma. He never married but he wore a wedding ring the last several years of his life. Some say he was gay. Some say he carried a torch for his first love and, even though she married another man, he never got over her. Some people he say was an alcoholic, a womanizer, the essence of the eternal bachelor. Some say he loved children and others have heard stories that he hated them but played nice for the press. He apparently went on writing binges that lasted for days, writing in bed, at night, all day, not eating, not stopping until he got it right. He hung out with Presidents and diplomats. He lived as a guest in a home he never owned, and may or may not have had an affair with the lady of the house (who's husband, mother, and father also were in residence). He wrote the most tantalizing Victorian love letters I've ever seen.

Though his secretary drafted and published a biography, all of the good stuff -- the nitty gritty, if you will -- is still up in the air. The man remains an enigma. The people who visit this Museum all have their own version of Mr. Riley. The Child Hater. The Drunk. The Saint. Those who visit with little knowledge learn quite a bit about the man but undoubtedly walk away with only more questions.

Chatting with a Museum guest this morning, I jokingly mentioned that I thought I might write a book about Mr. Riley some day. 

"There's just so much there, you know? He's still a mystery," I concluded.

"Why not today?" he asked. "I'll tell you one thing, and that is: Don't wait. If you want to do it, do it." 

He then proceeded to tell me "one thing" a few more times. Like, publish it in e-book format at first and his roommate from college published an e-book and now it's getting picked up by a publisher and this old house he lived in once had a ..... and so on.

But I like his attitude. Why not today?

The short answer: Grad school.

But really... I mean. 

Why not today?

Sarah :: Plucky in Love

Sarah, aka "Plucky", blogs on the reg, unless she's on vacation or there's a Pretty Little Liars marathon or she's mulling over the implications of the phrase "on fleek." She can't live without iced coffee, a portable phone charger, or equal pay. Say hello!


  1. Yeah! Don't waste time when it comes to accomplishing what you want to the same time, I know exactly how you feel about school taking over your entire life...because it does! But goes by fast!

  2. Thanks for the moral support! haha. Life is all about balance, right? :)
    Thank you for your comment. And I'll be sure to let you know the second a word makes its way onto a Book-Written-by-Sarah page. :)