Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “Don’t Try to Walk before You Can Crawl” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/17/08)
TITLE: The Right Way to Create a Masterpiece
By Petra van der Zande
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As a young girl, she enjoyed walking between the rows of the library. So many to choose from!
At home she would curl up in a chair and let herself be transported to a different world.
Like all teenagers, she began to taste from different genres; romance, detective, horror or psychology - she liked them all.
Her choice of book as an adult depended on her mood; then it was mainly romance or inspirational non-fiction.
One day she read a novel, and the writer’s repetitive sentences began to irritate her.
“Well, if SHE is able to get such a book published, I can do better!” Christina told her husband.
“Go ahead!” Bill said.
Except for the fact that she received good marks for school-essays and was blessed with a ‘feeling’ for languages, Christina didn’t have any professional writer’s training. Nevertheless, she embarked on the project – surely this would become a masterpiece!
Christina wove her love for nature and faith in God through the simple plot. A few sentences were borrowed from a magazine, for their poetic descriptions of the necessary nature scenes sounded far better than her own simple wording.
After weeks of typing and retyping and working very hard to get it perfect, Christina’s manuscript was ready.
To make it easier for the publisher, she had typed it in A5 format - stapled and all – and provided her own drawing for the cover. A cozy letter accompanied the manuscript.
The waiting game began.
Having no guidelines to begin with, Christina didn’t know how long it would take before she could expect an answer.
The weeks turned into a year, and still no answer. Christina didn’t dare to contact the publisher for fear they might think she was pushing them.
After 1½ years, she wrote a letter to the publisher asking about the status of her manuscript.
The official reply was not what she had hoped for, nor expected.
“Your novel suffers from too many unimportant elaborations, it lacks tension and your descriptions are repetitive. We’re sorry to say that also your book’s ending is very unsatisfactory.”
That was the end of Christina’s writing career.
Crushed, she began to look for other ways to express herself artistically.
30 years later, the deeply buried longing to write resurfaced.
When the opportunity arose to enroll in a professional writer’s course, Christina grabbed her chance.
Enthusiastically, she sent in her assignments, worked hard and learnt where she went wrong the first time.
“I’ve made all the mistakes in the book,” Christina told her husband. Now she could laugh about it.
Looking back on her blundering performance, she saw the lack of professionalism in her writing, and how totally wrong she had presented the manuscript.
Under the gentle coaching of her wonderful teacher Christina slowly gained confidence - even dared to send stories and articles out.
More rejection letters followed.
“These are part of the writer’s life, dear! Cry, then continue,” her mentor told her.
Although the family situation often made it difficult to find time, Christina tried to write whenever she could. Especially in the beginning it was hard to concentrate when the children were around.
But she plodded on, learnt to adjust and found time - half an hour here, a few hours there.
After she finally had given herself permission to write she was unstoppable.
Writing became like breathing - she couldn’t do without anymore.
Diploma in hand, Christina felt bereft.
She was on her own now, and still couldn’t call herself ‘published’.
Trusting God would open the right doors, she kept on knocking until eventually, they began to open.
Because of her training and continuous writing, Christina’s words began to flow more easily.
She also began to see that you can’t expect a masterpiece from an apprentice.
As an apprentice, she had worked alongside her mentor, the master craftsman. The ‘journeyman’ stage came after working hard and applying the constructive critique, although Christina still needed supervision.
In order to become a craftsman herself, she needed to hone her craft. That meant she had to keep on learning and writing as much as possible.
When Christina’s second novel was finished, she couldn’t send it out yet, for the manuscript first had to undergo the arduous process of re-writing, editing and more editing.
Like all craftsmen, Christina’s ultimate goal was to create a masterpiece.
“But this time,” she vowed, “I’ll do it the right way!”
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