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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: Sabrina's Burden
By Tim George


“Too long, too wordy, too rough, way too preachy … just too.”

Sabrina Holcombe glared over the top of her reading glasses as she threw the manuscript in three directions at once, its pages fluttering to the floor at the feet of her assistant acquisitions editor. The assistant parted her lips, paused, and then began to quietly gather the discarded pages. “I just thought you might want to give it a chance; guess I was wrong.”

“I’ll say you were,” Sabrina shot back. “When the merger brought your imprint into the fold I thought we made it clear – marketable and can be replicated. Which of those two concepts did you not get when I asked you to find me the next long term seller?”

There was no response. After all, what could the girl say? Instead of something with a wow factor she had presented her with 110,000 pages of allegory. Good grief …. Allegory! Sabrina gathered herself and decided to avoid a total loss by teaching her new assistant a thing or two about what would and would not make it in the Christian market.

She took a deep breath and smiled one of her best ‘you’re not very bright so let me educate you’ smiles. “So what are the rules for finding a potential best seller?”

“Platform is king.”

“Exactly! And why is it that?”

“Because with current economic conditions we need authors that can sell their work by the power of their name and through the scope of their influence.”

Sabrina leaned back in her chair and sighed. One thing to repeat the words and another to understand them. She glanced at the papers strewn across the carpet. This guy has no platform. A nobody. And an ex-con on top of that. And what does he write about? Who wants to read 110,000 words about some guy trying to carry a back pack to a mythical city? I bet he thinks he has the next The Shack in that tome. Oh well, time to whip this assistant into shape.

“Miss Simpson,” Sabrina now spoke with the voice of certain experience. “Writing is an art and a business. Only a few understand how to marry the two into a relationship that works. Perhaps if this writer went to a few workshops, read a few books, perhaps attended my Writer’s Retreat at Tahoe he might one day become a decent writer. Why, he might even sell a few thousand copies if he is willing to listen and learn.”

“But,” the assistant grew brave enough to speak, “this man crafted a really good story. From what I understand he worked on it day and night in isolation for months before showing it to anyone …”

“Miss Simpson,” Sabrina interrupted, “one man’s craft is another man’s folly.” She thumped the papers now piled in the assistant’s arms, “that is folly. It will never sell.”

Kelly Simpson shuffled out of her boss’s office only picking up her pace as she rounded the corner and approached the break room. A young man spotted her and ran alongside, “Did she figure out who wrote it?”

Kelly shook her head, “All she thinks is some guy named J.B. who needs a crash course in writing wasted him time with something that will never sell.”

Her friend grinned, “Guess we got our answer about where this place is headed. Are you going to tell her? I mean he wrote what is considered one of the greatest works in English Literature.”

There was no response. After all, what could Kelly say? Maybe it wouldn’t be a total loss. She had left a copy of J.B.’s already published novel in her boss’s inbox. Perhaps she would read it. Perhaps she would even understand what skill had been put into each of the story’s 110,000 words. And maybe, just maybe, Sabrina Holcombe would lay her own burden down as well.

Or perhaps, Kelly would be looking for another job tomorrow.

The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come by John Bunyan better known as Pilgrim’s Progress has been translated into over 200 languages and has never been out of print since it was first written in prison in 1678. All events and entities in this story are based on events and institutions this author hopes the reader takes seriously.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/30/10
Wow this definitely made me think.
Charla Diehl 05/01/10
A great reminder to all writers-never give up because one person doesn't think your writing is worthy. Thanks for the inspiring message.
Margaret Kearley 05/03/10
This is good - and very thought-provoking. I am trying to think of which of Bunyan's characters, Sabrina would most fit - I am sure there is one!
Beth LaBuff 05/04/10
I loved being "on the inside" while reading this... (knowing what the publisher did not). Great title too!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/06/10
Congratulations in placing in the top 30 overall.