Little Acts

Submitted into Contest #135 in response to: Write about a casual act of bravery.... view prompt


Contemporary Drama Coming of Age

It was time.  

The decision had been up in the air for so long that the woman had to honestly think about what decision she had decided to make.  The woman stared at her computer screen blankly, her expressive brown eyes looking over the multiple tabs opened on her computer.  She’d done so much research over the last few months!  Coming at her book from so many different angles…  Wasn’t writing the book supposed to be the hardest part?  Wasn’t that supposed to be the thing that kept her up at night, struggling to find the right words to enchant and enthrall her intended audience?  

And Lord knew that she’d done just that for years!  She’d slaved over her craft, fitting word after word to her masterpiece.  Writing when she didn’t feel like it.  Writing when there didn’t seem to be words left in her.  Writing through her pain, her embarrassment, her shame, her joy, her misery.  Writing when she felt too full of words, when she found herself choking on the pure overflow of ideas and concepts.  Six years she’d slaved over her masterpiece whenever life allowed for it.  She had mouths to feed and had to keep a roof over her family’s heads.  As much as she enjoyed creating worlds and characters to inhabit those worlds, she still had a mortgage.  So, baby steps.  A few hours here, a few minutes there.  Whatever it took to balance her life and hobbies.  

She’d struggled to create the perfect scenes for her story, lamenting when they came so brilliantly to her mind and seemed so mediocre after passing the gateway of her keyboard.  With all her income tied up in her golden handcuffs; the house and the electricity and the gas and the cars, she had to settle for the free information offered by the internet and books from the library to hone her craft.  

How she wished she could do better!  She couldn't help the feeling of inadequacy as she struggled with scene after scene, line after line of her masterpiece.  Everything in her said that someone else, someone more talented and eloquent could bring her vision to life.  Yet, it was her vision and therefore her task to bring it to fruition.  So, she plodded on, struggling to understand things like point of view and grammar; trying to understand motivations and perspectives that differed from her own.  She furiously read the words of others to increase her knowledge of other types of thinking, all the better to improve her own writing.  Never stopping, never giving up.  Taking breaks only to come back to her brainchild, her obsession.  And slowly - oh, so slowly - it started to come together.  The words trickled out a little bit easier, the lines became paragraphs that - if not brilliance, if not genius - were at least something that she could live with.  The paragraphs became scenes and the scenes became a chapter!  And then another and another.  Then, tragedy strikes.  One of those scenes had to go for the sake of the narrative.  But it was such a good scene!  But it didn’t fit with the narrative.  

More cuts, more writing to fill in the gaps.  Then, finally.  She reaches the point where she knows her characters inside out.  Where she no longer needs to struggle with them because their actions just make sense for them.  What a relief to reach those blessed words 'The End'. 

She soon discovers that 'The End' is only the beginning.  Edited and refined by her, now it goes into the grinder.  Others now have their eyes and opinions on her words. Every 'this is trite' and 'are you sure you want to do this' chips away at her confidence in her ability to write.  But she pushes through it.  More cuts, more edits…  At times it seems that the process will never end.  Rearranging this chapter, reorganizing and restructuring that; she barely recognizes her masterpiece by the time it's all done.  But the core, the main message is still there.  She struggles to alter her vision enough to make this new group of words acceptable. She scrapes together enough money to have someone professional look over her brainchild, resulting in even more revisions - more pieces of her original vision lost. And in time, with even more work and effort, she is ready to submit it for publishing.  So many rejections!  She never knew that there were so many ways she could be told ‘no’.  Some are blunt, some are kind, but the results are still the same.  The kind ones sometimes leave suggestions for her masterpiece: she laps up these suggestions eagerly, doing whatever she can to make her vision more marketable.

It is as the woman is pairing down yet another scene for yet another publisher that had rejected her manuscript when it hit her.  How ridiculous was it to change her manuscript for someone that had rejected her?  The idea struck her as just as ridiculous as a woman changing herself for a man that had already broken up with her.  What’s the point?  It wasn’t like the man was going to take her back.  This is how she stumbles upon the idea of self-publishing.  She can keep her masterpiece intact and have creative freedom with it.  That, of course, means more research.  She now has to balance the ease of creative control with the management of profits, etc.  How to handle marketing, how to make a cover for her book…   Who did she trust the most with her brainchild, her masterpiece?  Thus the research.  She'd never been down this particular path before and neither had any of her friends.  There was no one to guide her, no one to call on for advice.  She was all alone.  The woman read through the contracts of different companies very carefully.  She didn't want to be fooled out of her masterpiece through legal-ese.  Once the book was published, that would be the final version.  No more editing, no more changes.  Was she ready for that?  Editing and revisions were safe.  Giving her book to the world was not.  She pushed through a new set of fears and insecurities.  Was this the right thing to do?  

Then, one ordinary Tuesday morning, she sat in front of her computer, frozen in terror.  This was it.  She'd cut through the legal language and finally understood everything enough to either choose 'Agree' or 'Cancel'.  This was the moment.  All that was left in her manuscript journey.  She'd hit 'Cancel' so many times.  There were always reasons - perfectly valid reasons - to cancel the request.  But the truth was, she was petrified.  This ordinary Tuesday was no different.  As she edged her mouse closer to the 'Agree' button, all of her fears and doubts rose up in her yet again.  Her mouse edged towards the 'Cancel' button like it had the last thousand times she'd put herself in this position. 

She pressed 'Agree'. 

March 01, 2022 23:19

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J.C. Lovero
12:46 Mar 10, 2022

Hello! Thanks for sharing this piece with us. You describe some we all face as we pursue publishing our written work. If any of this is autobiographical - congrats on pressing the 'agree' button :)


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Paul Brown
07:40 Mar 10, 2022

Just a really great story, which will resonate with many of the aspiring authors, I'm nervous just thinking about what lies ahead. Thanks a lot Lady Senie. :)


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