It was a busy morning, pressured. So many tasks to do, and a deadline to meet. Not the time to entertain Story. But Story came, pestering for attention.
Wading through the breakfast dishes, loading up the laundry, he spattered words and scattered phrases. And all the time he called, “I want your attention … attention … attention!”
“Go away! I haven’t time!” I shouted in despair, as I turned the computer on. “There are too many things to do.”
I settled at the keyboard, looking at the time displayed in the corner of the screen. The first words battered me. Steady. Keep a steady rhythm, otherwise the computer leaves letters out. Half a page. Where was this taking me? There was a load of washing to hang, another to load.
I pegged the clothes with words, raced back to the keyboard. Another load of washing, a final filling of the tub. At last the tale was told. How many words? I saw Story’s triumphant grin. Seven hundred and twenty three words. Memory panicked. I needed only five hundred and fifty. I’d have to pare. I checked the time. It was close, too close.
Back to the beginning – take out the superlatives. Is there anything not absolutely necessary to the sense of the tale? Prune, cut, slash if need be. I worked in desperation. Story sulked in the corner.
At last I was down to just over six hundred words, and I couldn’t see what else might be lopped off, taken out. I glanced back at the time. There just wasn’t time to go through it again. And I remembered: the Writing Challenge called for a maximum of seven hundred and fifty words – not five hundred and fifty.
I entered the article, and left the house.
As I walked to keep my appointment, Story persisted. “I had it right in the first place. Why don’t you just listen? Now you’ve spoiled it. It was meant to describe the emotions, the fears of the woman; you’ve taken all that out and just left an incident. That’s all, just an incident.” He stamped his foot. “A bare, ordinary incident!” And he turned his back.
I stormed back at him. “Not everything you say is so good, anyway. Look at all the books in the world. Half of them aren’t worth reading. The basics are lousy and the expressions are worse. I…”
He turned back. His face was sad and his touch was gentle.
“Have you heard the term: ‘The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet.’?
The same man also wrote, ‘whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.’ Those things you think about, those things you concentrate on, are the things you will write about. Think about the glory of creation. The love of God. The wounds of Jesus, and His everlasting covenant. Look forward to the coming of the King. And you will write the stories that I want to tell.”
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