People like to give each other gifts -- for birthdays and holidays and thank yous, and sometimes just because. The thing is, it's not always easy to come up with a good gift idea. So people will find a theme and latch onto that, and run it into the ground.
I have a sister who likes wolves, so when we can't think of anything else to get her, we get her something with a picture of a wolf on it -- a shirt, an afghan, whatever. I have a brother-in-law who liked ducks, so for awhile everyone was giving him duck-themed presents (until he asked us all to please stop).
I'm a writer, so I get a lot of pens -- which is nice, but I hardly ever use pens; I learned to type before I hit my teens and do all my writing with a keyboard.
And I write fantasy, especially stories with dragons in them, so I started getting dragons. All kinds of dragons. Ivory dragons, brass dragons, paper dragons, plastic dragons, hand-carved wooden dragons, Lego dragons, Welsh dragons, Chinese dragons.
I'm fine with this, actually, because I really do like dragons, but one year apparently I was being particularly hard to shop for, and I got about half a dozen dragons at once. It was a bit challenging figuring out where to put them all. And when I had found them all places, and looked around, I found myself thinking that if this went on for a few years it could easily get out of hand -- there wouldn't be room in the house for anything but dragons. I might become a dragon hoarder, the fantasy equivalent of a crazy cat lady...
That was the start of the story. I combined that with a character from Thurber and an image from Sturgeon, and there it was.
And just about then I was invited to submit a story to The Ultimate Dragon, so I finished up "The Man Who Loved Dragons" and sent them that. The editor at Byron Preiss Visual Productions, who was packaging the anthology, accepted it, and I thought that was that.
But then, when the book was delivered to the actual publisher (Dell, I think), the in-house editor didn't like my story and asked BPVP to find a replacement. The fine folks at BPVP called and asked if I maybe had another dragon story handy.
I did, and I sent it to them, and that story, "Sirinita's Dragon," is what wound up in the book. "The Man Who Loved Dragons" was homeless.
I wasn't in any great hurry to do anything with it; I had sold plenty of short fiction by then, and having a few stories stashed away for emergencies didn't bother me. So I put it aside.
And then a few years later, FoxAcre agreed to publish a new edition of my short story collection Crosstime Traffic. To make it more marketable, it was suggested I should add a previously-unpublished bonus story.
I looked in my stash, and chose "The Man Who Loved Dragons."
And there it is. Hasn't been reprinted anywhere; that's its only appearance.
That's it; here's your list of handy exits: