Thursday, December 07, 2006

JC: Three Letters

You did it.

You took the plunge. You dared to dream that you could be a writer. You’ve even begun to tell other people you’re a writer. You may have even written something.

Nobody knows nor can they appreciate the effort it took, the sacrifices you made, the fear you had to face down to write your story. You have something to give to the world. You want to make a contribution. Nothing gives you greater joy than to hear people laugh at the funny parts, get teary-eyed at the mushy parts, or take you by the hand and say in all earnestness, “I can’t tell you how much your writing means to me.”

It hasn’t been easy getting to this point. To become a writer you’ve taken classes, read voraciously, struggled through tiresome first drafts and persisted, until now you have something worth sharing. You have even risked delivering your printed dream to the world at a conference, through an agent, or on postal wings to a publisher.

Only to find that the world doesn’t care. A serial editor slashed it with red marks. The publisher... no, many publishers with one loud voice have said they don’t want to have anything to do with it. You’re crushed. You laid your gift at the world’s feet and the world kicked it back into your face.

Now as you sit at your desk—the same desk where you poured out your heart and story—three new compositions are arrayed in front of you. Three letters.

Letter number one:
Dear World,
Take a hike. I offered you a piece of my soul and you spindled it, wipe your feet on it, and mailed it back to me. It is obvious you do not want what I have to give. Well, I have good news for you. I won’t be bothering you again. If I wanted this kind of ridicule, sarcasm, and abuse I would’ve talked to my teenage children. You will find no return address on this letter for good reason. I will retire far from the publishing world with my cat (who loves everything I write), and from now on I will write only during lazy summer evenings when inspiration is heavy in the air. Maybe a hundred years from now some attic adventurer will discover my manuscripts, appreciate their wisdom and talent, and introduce them to a more sensitive world.

Letter number two:
Dear World,
I don’t understand. What do you want from me? I have offered you my skill, my heart, my stories, and you have yawned in my face. Tell me what you want to hear and I’ll write it. Play the music and I’ll dance to your tune. Then, maybe after I have established myself you will be more receptive, and I’ll write the good stuff and dazzle you.

Letter number three:
Dear World,
So, my stories did not make your flavor-of-the-month list. You said they had all the excitement of green beans and broccoli. Touché. First, understand this: I refuse to write whipped cream stories. There are too many all sugar, no substance stories on the shelves already. But I’ll tell you something else…I’m not going away. I’ll win you over. I once heard an old Irish saying, “Is this a private fight, or can anyone join?” Maybe after we have gone a few rounds we will come to respect each other. Put your dukes up. You may have won round one, but the fight has just begun.

Three letters. One envelope.
The decision is made. You select one of the letters, fold it, slip it in the envelope, seal, stamp, and mail it to the world.

Which letter did you send?

Jack Cavanaugh, together with Bill Bright, is the author of Fury, the fourth and final installment in the Great Awakenings series.


At 1:17 AM, Blogger ~ Brandilyn Collins said...

All three. At various times. Depending on the day.

At 8:36 AM, Blogger lisa samson said...

Amen, sister! I was thinking the same thing. But if I had to pick what general type of letter writer I am, it's number one. Let me just go away into a hidey-hole, draw and make jewelry!

Ha! Thank goodness God doesn't let me do that.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

As John Paul Jones said, "We've only just begun to fight!"

At this point in my writing career, I'd send #3. Although I'm very grateful to God for what I've accomplished (9 titles), I have vast hopes and dreams.

Somebody said, "People don't fail; they quit." I ain't quitting.

Thanks for a wonderful post!

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Angela said...

People are ALWAYS coming up to me and offering to take me to lunch . . . so they can learn how to "be a writer." I want to grab them by the collar, shake them, and yell, "So what have you WRITTEN?"

When I started, I didn't talk to anybody, really. Never had a mentor other than my editors. I just read . . . and wrote. And read . . . and wrote. Over and over in a vicious circle that continues today.

Lunches are good for eating. Writers read and write; they feast on words.


At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack, brother, that got me. Right between the eyes. And I needed it. Thanks.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger batgirl said...

"Depending on the day," Brandilyn? How about depending on the hour? (or the time of the month.)

Ya gotta love your pets with their unconditional love and support. My black labs respond to all my stories with tail-wagging:)

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Too funny. I was just sitting here debating this very thing. Number one ain't an option. I'm too stubborn to say I've wasted the last 5 or so years only to quit and where else would I go? But between 2 and 3, well, that's a hard one. It's frustrating that's fo sho.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Southern-fried Fiction said...

Letter #3, of course!

Like Angie, I didn't know anyone who actually wrote. But my dh said I read so many blasted books, I ought to write one of my own. So I sat down and did. :) Then I wrote another one. Then a third. Got in a crit group and finally got an agent.

Now I'm rewriting the 2nd one. LOL But I'll get there you!!!


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