November 29, 2023

Mr. Plumbean, creativity, and constraints

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

As a creativity researcher and Psychology professor, I found inspiration in your writing — so much so that the Big Orange Splot story (a favorite of mine and my son’s) became a parable for my theory of creativity from constraints. The article that describes it is titled “The Mr. Plumbean Approach: How Focusing Constraints Anchor Creativity“. 

Warm regards,


Daniel replies:


Thanks for your interest in my book, THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT. I read most of your article, and am happy to report it is some of the highest quality gibberish I have experienced. A few notes from the author/illustrator: I was on a prolonged stay away from home when I wrote the script. I had none of my semi-professional art supplies with me, so I went to a drugstore and purchased a sketch book, meant for children, and a set of markers for a dollar. I did rough sketches, and sent the whole project, text and sketches, to a publisher. The publisher took the drawings to be finished art, and made me an offer for publication rights, which I accepted. I always felt the book was presented in an unfinished state, text needing possible attention, and art very rough. However, I needed the money, and assumed no harm had been done. I didn't think the book was very good. A high government official contacted me to say she required all her subordinates to read the book. I asked why. She then explained the book to me. "That sounds like a pretty good book," I told her. I later learned the book has sold more than a million copies. I never understood the book, and still may not understand it well, so there is no reason for you to feel bad if your thinking and mode of expression should change at some later date.

With best wishes,