“Well, I finally did it,” I said, walking into the kitchen where my two roommates sat eating breakfast.
“Did what?” Tracy asked, looking up from her newspaper. Catherine continued sipping her coffee.
“I joined that online writer’s forum I’ve been telling you about.”
“Jen, that’s great!” Tracy said, applauding.
I took a bow, scooped Tracy’s cat, Horace, off of my chair, and sat down. “From now on,” I said, stroking Horace, “the world will finally have the chance to read the stories of Jennifer Anne Dawes.”
Catherine rolled her eyes. “No offense, Jen,” she said, “but aren’t you still a beginning writer? What makes you think anyone will want to read YOUR stories? I know I hate reading anything that isn’t extremely well-written.”
“Every great writer has to start somewhere,” I retorted. “I’m sure the people on the forum understand that.”
“They’ll probably give you lots of advice,” Tracy added.
“Well, whatever happens,” Catherine replied, smiling, “never give up on your dream. I’m sure you’ll be an author some day.”
After work that evening I uploaded my first chapter onto the forum, and the next day I waited eagerly for a critique.
“It might take a little longer than one day before somebody notices you,” Tracy assured me.
But at the end of two weeks, nobody had even looked at my story. And as other stories received critiques, it bothered me to know that I was the only one left out.
“I guess you were right all along,” I told Catherine the next morning at breakfast. “I’ve written the most unpopular story on the planet. Nobody wants to read it.”
“I’ll read it,” Tracy said, setting aside her favorite book on cats. “I always wanted to, and maybe I can tell you what went wrong.”
Encouraged, I pulled Tracy over to my computer, opened the file, and showed her my story.
Her face fell. “Thirty-nine pages?” she gasped. “Single-spaced? Jen, NOBODY has time to critique a thirty-nine page chapter. No wonder you’ve had problems! How about I just take a look at the first four pages?”
I nodded, and slunk back into the kitchen. “Even Tracy doesn’t want to read it,” I informed Catherine, taking a seat across from her and burying my head in my hands.
“Don’t give up, Jen,” Catherine said, concerned. “Never give up on your dream.”
“Why not, if nobody else cares?” I asked.
That evening I decided to check the forum one last time. Saying a quick prayer, I clicked on the critiquing board, and froze.
But only for a moment.
“Tracy!” I yelled. “Catherine! Come see THIS!”
“What?” Tracy asked, stumbling into my room in her pink kitten pajama bottoms.
“Someone critiqued my story!” I cried, jumping up and doing my happy dance.
“No way,” Catherine said, running in and taking a look. “That’s a real critique all right. It has everything: changes, suggestions, and praise.”
“But who’s KittyMarie?” Tracy asked, looking at the name of my benefactor.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “Check her profile, Catherine.”
But there was no information, no picture, nothing. The whole profile was blank.
“How exciting!” Tracy said. “A mysterious critiquer.”
It WAS exciting. Over the next few weeks, every time I uploaded a new chapter, KittyMarie was there to read it. Soon I began receiving critiques from CShell, dramaqueen, and Ladybug55, though none could compare to KittyMarie. She pointed out my faults without sounding rude, and she always had a lot of good suggestions.
How excited I was when I finally uploaded my seventeenth and final chapter for KittyMarie to read. But when I looked at her critique, all she said was,
“Congratulations! Never give up on your dream.”
“Catherine!” I yelled, storming into her bedroom. “Are you KittyMarie?”
“What?” she asked, peering at me over her magazine.
Her eyes gave her away.
“Didn’t you tell me once that your dad used to call you ‘Kitty’?”
“What about ‘Marie’?”
“My middle name,” she admitted.
“Why did you do it?” I asked.
Catherine shrugged. “It’s easy to tell people to ‘never give up’,” she said, “but you showed me that it’s more important to help people fulfill their dreams. I just wanted you to see that you ARE a great writer, Jen. Consider that your own personal critique.”
“And you are a great friend,” I replied, hugging her. “So, does that mean you’ll keep on critiquing?”
“Nope,” Catherine said, laughing. “I think that was my eighteenth, and final, critique.”
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