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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Manuscript (04/29/10)

TITLE: wasted years
By Elizabeth Cain


Maria was leaning against the couch armrest, an open envelope in hand and a pile of papers on her lap. She pulled the letter from the envelope and read it again. They were going to publish her novel. She was so close to achieving her goal now, why did she feel so confused. She folded the letter up again and slipped it back in the envelope. She should be overjoyed, but she wasn’t. A tear fell from her cheek, wetting the manuscript on her lap. She glared down at the papers of her first novel. In a fit of rage she hurled the pages over the back of the couch, hot tears running down her face. She threw herself onto the decorative pillows, wetting them with her tears. Her heart was in turmoil. She needed answers. An old dusty book that stood on her bookshelf caught her eye. She stumbled toward the shelf, her vision blurred with tears. She pulled the book from its place, causing the other books to fall against shelf’s side. She blinked a few times to clear her eyes as she brushed the dust off the old Bible. She leafed carefully through it until one of the verses caught her eyes. She wiped a fresh tear from her eye as she read the verse again. She let herself sink to the floor. Her heart was torn; she’d spent three long years writing that novel, but now she realized she couldn’t publish it without it harming her testimony. She desperately asked God for wisdom, strength, and guidance.

Maria was awakened when she heard the phone ringing. She stood shakily to her feet, wiping her tear stained cheeks with the back of her sleeve.
“Hello?” Her voice cracked as she spoke into the speaker.
“Good evening Maria, this is Amelia.” The cheery voice of her editor responded, “I just wanted to let you know that I have the papers for you to sign at the office. Do you want to come over now, or shall I hold on to them?”
“Amy, I don’t… I just...I don’t feel at ease about publishing my book.”
“What?!” Amy sounded shocked, “You have the makings of a best-seller on your hands! If you are worried that your writing needs to be polished—”
“It’s not the writing, it’s the story.”
“The story is amazing! What could you possibly not like about it?”
“It doesn’t correspond with my beliefs. I am a Christian, but I doubt you could tell by reading my story.”
“Maria,” Amelia said gently, “A writer’s job isn’t to share beliefs, but to tell a story. And the story you have is one of the best I’ve ever read.”
“All writers have a set of personal beliefs they follow, and they naturally portray that in their writing. I was wrong in thinking my writing didn’t have to match what I believed. I’m sorry Amy; I just can’t publish that story.”
“Are you absolutely sure about this? I mean, you once told me how much being an author meant to you. Are you really willing to let this opportunity pass you by?”
Maria had to hold back the tears. “I am positive. As much as I’d like to see my name on a cover, I’d rather have my name forgotten than preserved on a book that displeases God and pollutes my testimony.”
Amy sighed, “I think you are making a mistake, but if I can’t convince you otherwise I guess there is nothing left to say. I wish you luck with your writing, though. You have skill; don’t let that go to waste as well.”
“Thanks, Amy. I wish you the best too.”

Maria felt the tears run down her face as she hung up, but she felt a huge weight lifted from her heart. A smile spread across her face and she felt at peace. She went to her writing desk and after laying her Bible down she opened a new word document. Her fingers darted across the keyboard, her eyes transfixed to the screen as she made a second attempt at being an author. She paused and glanced over at the open Bible, reading the fifth chapter of Ephesians again. Simple and short as it was, the fourth verse stuck out to her the most. It read: “Obscene stories, foolish talk, and course jokes—these are not for you. Instead let there be thankfulness to God.”

(I used the NLT Bible for verse reference)

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This article has been read 489 times
Member Comments
Member Date
angelos2 wark05/07/10
What a wonderful reminder to every Christian writer, that we write for the glory of God.
It is so easy to get caught up in the desire to be Published that we can be tempted to compromise the message. Bravo!!
Jan Ackerson 05/07/10
Excellent lesson!

A few suggestions--take a look at your first paragraph, especially at the first words of each sentence. Can you find a way to add more variety?

That first paragraph could be divided into several smaller ones--and in the dialog in the second half, a blank space between each person's dialog would work better.

I love that your author followed God's promptings--I'll bet she has another book in her!
Dana McReynolds05/07/10
Wonderful message!
Joanna Stricker05/07/10
You did a good job portraying the temptation to compromise the message that we portray. The pressure to conform comes from many angles, sometimes the publisher, sometimes the market demands, and even sometimes from the education system. I felt sorry for the MC that she had spent so long working on the first novel but was happy that she did not give up but started a new novel immediately. In addition to the paragraphs, I would also change the words "was awakened" to "woke". Good job portraying the inward struggle of your MC.
Mildred Sheldon05/08/10
I loved how you shared your heart. All have wasted years according to our standards but are they wasted in God's sight? I think they are learning years. Thank you for sharing your heart. Keep writing and God bless.
PamFord Davis 05/12/10
Very emotional story. Standing up for our convictions is not the easy way, always the way of faith and obedience.
Joanne Sher 05/13/10
Very emotional read - and a powerful message to all of us. I'm glad she stayed true to her beliefs.
Ernie Earth05/13/10
Our Father says that all things work to our good. I think this even means what we might think is wasted time.

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite books, say's, "No matter how far down the path we may go, we come to see how our experience can benefit others."

Great story! I'll read the book, if it becomes one.
Margaret Kearley 06/01/10
This is wonderful and so deserved the 'Highly Commended' it was awarded. You described Maria's anguish so well - and the victory over temptation. A really challenging lesson too. Excellent.