Friday, May 07, 2010


How many writers have thought about quitting at some point in their careers? I never thought I'd seriously consider it, but I did...however briefly. I'd just gotten rejected again, by a venue I had hoped would be my second fiction sale. I'd been told, and not for the first time, that an editor had liked my story, liked my writing style, liked my voice, but still decided not to buy it. I'd been doing some soul-searching. If my best fiction was good enough to gain attention from editors, if they had no helpful criticisms to offer, if they seriously waffled about something I wrote but then still decided not to buy, then what was the point in my continuing to try? How long could I live with the "missed it by that much" feeling? Maybe quitting would be letting myself off the hook. Maybe my ego needed a break. Maybe I wasn't one of the lucky ones, and no matter how good I was, maybe no one would ever want what I had to offer. Maybe.

But then I read a short story in a book lent me by one of my critique partners. Most of the stories in this book were dark or depressing, or disturbing on one level or another. This one in particular, the third in the collection, was not. It was a re-visioning of Cinderella, in which the girl was also a storyteller. After a long time of sharing her stories with a limited audience, of doing them just for her sisters, she dared write herself into her own tale. She clothed herself in magic and went to the ball to meet the prince, who quite naturally swept her off her feet. Later, however, in the harsh light of day, she began to doubt herself and began to believe that she wasn't worthy and could never be worthy. That was when he came for her, bringing the glass slipper she'd dropped, carefully reminding her that he needed her to finish the story, that without her, their story--the one they were telling together--could never be finished. It seems that, all the while, she herself was the faery who spun tales the world needed in order to heal, to dream, to believe.

It hit me like a sledgehammer right between the eyes. We are all storytellers in our own individual ways, and the world needs every one of us. How could I think that I could quit writing fiction--that my stories don't matter? This one story written by someone I had never even heard of before, hidden like a bright gem in a collection of other, darker tales, was the reminder I needed to give me a push back in the direction of my own tale. What if, what if, a story I write someday becomes that one story for someone else, like this one was for me? How could I think that I could step away and put down the pen and leave the responsibility to others? How could I think that I would be off the hook that easily? I have these gifts, these tales I've been given, for a reason. No matter what it takes, I have to stand up and be counted with the others. If I make a difference for even one person, I've still made a difference.

Thank you, Faery Godmother. I see that, now.

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