A great story I’d like to share for the new year was presented to me some four plus years ago so I can’t recall all the specifics but here goes … It begins with a wanna-be author who had finished writing book no. 18 and wondering why in the world she kept at it. Especially when the previous 17 had been turned down by one publisher after the next. There were some positives to being turned down, however, as she had made some connections through the years. So while she was ready to give up she called one contact to see if they would consider this last book.
“If you fax it to us right away, we’ll give it a look,” came the reply that would set off an adventure unlike any other. First off, the wanna-be author had no home fax and her husband was out of town with their lone vehicle. The nearest fax machine was a mile plus across town and it was raining. Not a drizzle, mind you, but a monsoon.
Not about to give up, our heroine in the making collected manuscript no. 18 and began a very wet walk up hill —both ways— and where to I don’t recall but I want to say it was a post office.
Anyway, our wanna-be made it to a fax machine only to realize she had forgotten her wallet so ensued having to make the long trek back home, in a downpour (Uphill!) to collect her wallet and back across town once more. The latter trip elongated after a domestic altercation in one of the nearby neighborhoods turned into a standoff and entire blocks being closed off and traffic re-routed by the authorities.
Long walk made short in written form and one successful fax later, said heroine made it home once more only to find the last page of her manuscript still in the printer. That’s right, she had faxed the entire book minus the last page. Once again she headed out, detoured around the standoff in the pouring rain (Uphill!) to what may or may not have been a post office where she once again faxed her manuscript.
Now imagine this (fish) story being told by a very well-published author at a writer’s conference full of wanna-be authors all on the edge of their seats, including yours truly. While we knew the outcome it was a perfect example of how we all felt. The desire to be published with a whole lot of uphill battles along the way but what happened next was unthinkable.
Upon news that book no. 18 was going to be published, our author proceeded to celebrate by sitting on the floor with all of her unpublished manuscripts, a bottle of wine, and a shredder. Yes, to our absolute horror, she proceeded to shred all 17 stories while downing an entire bottle of wine.
A collective gasp went round the auditorium as attendees clutched at throats or covered their ears to block out what they’d just heard. Surely some of her previous work could have been used by the publisher, why destroy all 17 manuscripts?
Simmering the masses, the author explained there was something freeing about shredding those unpublished works. She had accomplished what she had always set out to do —be published— and wanted to move forward. Keeping those stories was holding on to a past best left behind, not to mention a miserable day trying to get one book into the hands of a publisher.
Though it has taken some time, there’s something reflective of life in general about her story. A new year is upon us which means we’ve another chance to write a new story, hopefully not so much bolstered by a whole bottle of wine but maybe by shredding the past so as to move forward. It’s not always easy, when one thinks about the author in the story there was a lot of work put into those 17 books, but sometimes we just have to move on.
Bethany J. Royer is the mother of two munchkins and has a serious case of psychology student senior-itis. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.