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Court Martialed by the Writing Judge
by Elizabeth Hale
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This is a loving tribute to this wonderful site and to some of my new friends here. I love this place and all you people. You're great!

"Do you know why you have been brought here?" the man in the black robe demanded, glaring at me over the top of his glasses, rather harshly, I thought.

"Um," I stammer, "no, not really."

"You have been charged with numerous misdemeanor violations within your writing community. You have been brought here to face these charges."

"Oh---okay," I say, fearful now. Uh-oh.

"This is a fair community. You must give a critique to get a critique. You must support your fellow writers. You must dot your i's and cross your t's faithfully and properly. You must employ proper comma usage. You must condense and refine your language. You must not attempt to blend two separate ideas together until you are properly prepared. How will you ever reach your goal of teaching rappers proper English usage and pronunciation if you don't know it yourself?"

I nod, ashamed of myself. I have failed miserably at some of this. Not all. Not the first part anyway.

"We have standards here. Write, post, review, critique, and REVISE as needed! You must rise to the Challenges that we present to you. You must always be ready to forge blindly, er, boldly ahead. You must post relentlessly and frequently. You must visit the What's New section daily to see how your fellow stragglers, er, travelers on this road with you are coming along!"

I do that, I think to myself. I got that part right. Except for the revisions. Those are hard sometimes. I don't like that part.

The judge looks at me sternly.

"You stand accused of being too straightforward, too honest at times. You speak your mind a little too freely. You need a few creative writing courses. Are these charges correct?"

"Well, my mother always told me to speak my mind, to be lovingly honest, to try to improve in all-----".

His hand shot up. "Is your mother posting any articles here?"

"No, she's not a writer, but----" my voice trails off lamely.

"Then she has no say in the matter. We writers take care of our own in our own way." I can't stop the shudder these words cause.

He shuffles through the stack of papers in front of him. "Who is to blame for the mistakes I see in these articles?"

"I am. I'm to blame. But, you see, I'm so busy. I have to rush my submissions sometimes. My family has some kind of radar that tells them exactly when I shouldn't be disturbed, and then they just barge right in and interrupt my thought processes, and I-----".

"Silence! Are you blaming your family for your failures?"

"No! Of course not!" I say indignantly.

He glared at me. "I understand that you are guilty of losing your temper when you are interrupted. We can't have that. You must do your yoga, you must do your aerobics, you must move around and work out your tension. Then you will not be so short-tempered! You must install, and USE, a lock on your office door. Do you understand?"

I can only nod, knowing that if my family wants in, they will come in. Regardless.

"You stand accused of failing in your revisions. If you wish to write, you must be willing to rewrite. Write, erase, write, erase. Often. You need discipline in this!" More paper shuffling.
"You failed to take one of your readers home in your writing, did you not?"

"I did." I admit. My reader was right, and I took his advice gladly. He helped me, a total stranger---what a great guy---gosh---he took time out of his own life to read one of my------.

"Where is this poor fellow now?" the judge demanded, interrupting my warm fuzzies.

"Um,---at home?" I venture.

"NO! NO HE ISN'T! He's out there, wandering in the desert, waiting for your revision. You failed to take him home in your article! You just left him hanging out there! We must persevere in our goal to get everyone home safely! Knowledgeably!"

"Hey, I did that revision!" I snap defensively.

"Yes, but how would he know that? How long has it taken you to get around to it?"

I start leafing through my own papers, glad to look away from his accusing stare. "Let's see. I wrote it---and then I got the critique---had to rethink it and ------".

"Enough!" he thundered. "He has moved on! You waited too long! You left him wandering somewhere. How do you answer this charge?"

I sigh. "Guilty. But it's really David Ian's fault."

"Now, THAT is a felony charge, blaming one of our own for your mistakes! Are you blaming our David, OUR DAVID, who has written over five hundred articles here, er, nearly two hundred articles here---why he is a seasoned professional! You---you're just a babe in the woods! How dare you besmirch this fine fellow's reputation!"

"No! No! I'm not besmirching anything! Anyone! I promise! It's just that I didn't receive my Daily Grind that day, and I can't write properly until I know what is going on," I spread my arms expansively to demonstrate, "out there! I was uninformed of conditions that may be relevant to my writing! To my life!"

"Yet, our David faithfully posted an entire week's worth of his publication in a mere two days. Is it his fault that you foolishly indulged in all of them on the same day?"

"No, but I need my Daily Grind, why, just the french fry edition alone was----".

"Be quiet!" he boomed. In the quiet, I was thinking that maybe David needed to give his delivery boy a good hard kick in the-----

"I advise you to subscribe to your local paper and leave this poor boy alone. He may post whenever he chooses, same as you. You should be ashamed of yourself!"


"At least Shannon thinks I write well most of the time," I mutter, wondering, did this happen to everyone here? Or just me?

"Ah, Shannon. Yes, we are well aware of our dear Shannon. Intelligent girl. A real up and comer. We are tracking her progress avidly." He looks thoughtful here, staring at me intently over those glasses. I wonder if he knows they give him Coke bottle eyes. "Since you brought her up, did she not recently accuse you of 'hopping down a bunny trail' in an article?"

I hang my head in shame. "She did, and she was right. It's just that I was so tired when I posted that------".

"Quiet!" the judge roared. A thick vein was pulsating in his forehead. I worried it might pop. "It's a very serious matter when you hop off down a bunny trail here. We cannot have this kind of behavior! Do I make myself clear?"

I nod, vowing to never veer onto the bunny trail again. Hopefully. At least not intentionally. But hey, that wasn't intentional either, and I--

"There will be no more excuses," the judge says with finality, slapping his papers down. "We each bear the responsibility and the burden associated with our individual articles. Your punishment will be long hours spent writing, diligent attention to details, faithful devotion to revision. I order it so!"

He stands up, turning to leave, and I sigh in relief. Then, he turns back to me. "You will press on, whatever may come, in your writing. You will continue to fling hot dogs at your day job, you will continue to tend to home and hearth. You will spend vast amounts of time with Your Father, and you will pray ceaselessly."

"Yes, sir, I will."

"One more thing," he adds, finally smiling at me. "Welcome to Faithwriter's!"

"Court is adjourned!"

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Member Comments
Member Date
David Ian 16 Aug 2006
Unintentional, I'm sure, but the little disclaimer right after your article was pure comic timing, "The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com." But yes, welcome, welcome to FaithWriters -- what a treat; with this little gem here I don't think there's any problem with you fitting right in. Hee hee. "Daily Grind" abuse is a misdemeanor, however ;^)


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