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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Manuscript (04/29/10)

TITLE: The Unpublished Masterpiece
By Amanda Brogan


There it set on my desk. Its presence brought relief and yet anxiety. It was a work of art, yet perhaps it was a failure. Every page had been painstakingly read, re-read, and edited more times than I could count. Each one was properly numbered and the margins were perfect. No comma or semicolon or even a dash was out of place.

The descriptions were vibrant, the characters unforgettable. The dialog was flowing and the plot exploded with unpredictable twists and turns.

But was it really ready?

The question seemed silly to the friends and family who had read my manuscript.

“Nicole, it’s amazing!” they told me. “You’ve got to get it published.”

And believe me, there was nothing in the world I wanted more.

But my mind was plagued with doubt. What if there was something missing? Sure it seemed perfect, but what if an editor or publisher spotted a mistake that I had overlooked? What if my friends and family only loved it because they were my friends and family? What if my book proposal was rejected? What if . . . what if it wasn’t very good after all?

Like a reckless freight train, these thoughts barreled through my head, threatening to crush my every hope and dream.

My fingers reached for the pile of neatly stacked papers, and I wondered if I should toss it into the trashcan or send it to the publishing company. Or maybe just stash it away in a closet where only a select few would ever read it.

I didn’t get the chance to decide.

My best friend, Ashley, suddenly bounded through my office door. Smacking a huge wad of pink bubble gum, she trotted over to my desk and sat on the edge.

“So Nicky, did ya space off our lunch date? We were gonna meet at the Café at noon remember?” She popped a record-sized bubble and drew the gum back into her mouth with her tongue.

I smiled. Ashley always brought light into my day, especially when I was in a gloomy mood. She was also the only person in the world who got by with calling me “Nicky.”

“No, I didn’t forget, Ashley.” I peeked at my watch. “But it’s only eleven thirty. I’m not in danger of being late yet.”

“I thought we could go over early.” She bounced up and practically skipped over to the door, her long auburn curls flopping up and down on her back. At twenty, she was still as lively and hyper as a teeny-bopper.

“What for?” I glanced again at the looming pages of indecision.

“Just come on, I have a surprise for you.”

With Ashley, I never ceased to be surprised.


As we entered the Café, I was still thinking more about what to do with my manuscript than I was with Ashley chattering about the colorful characters she had met at work yesterday, or with whatever interesting trick she had up her sleeve.

But suddenly I stopped in my tracks. Just ahead of us, sitting at one of the round mahogany tables was a familiar-looking woman. I could have recognized her face anywhere.

“Ashley!” I whispered loudly, “Do you know who that is?”

“How could I not? I’ve seen pictures of her on almost all your favorite books.” Her eyes twinkled and she led me right to the table where the woman sat. “Nicole Nelson, allow me to introduce you to your favorite author. The best-selling, award-winning Cathy Pickering!”

Cathy stood and shook my hand, her smile matching my shock. “I’ve heard a lot about you, Nicole. Ashley tells me you’re a promising author.”

I glanced at my beaming friend. “Thank you, ma’am. But I do think that Ashley may give my work more credit than it deserves.”

She laughed gently, “But do you give it enough credit?”

“Uhhhh . . .”

“I remember being where you are. I was afraid that nobody would like my stories; that no one would read them.”


“Mm-hmm. But I realized that nobody starts out being an expert at anything. You have to work at it. Gain experience. I didn’t sell a million books over night. With a beginning author, getting that first manuscript published can be stressful. But if you don’t step out on faith, you’ll never know how God can use your work.”

She wrapped her arm around my shoulder. “I’ve read your work, Nicky. How ‘bout you and I work on getting that future best-seller published?”

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This article has been read 639 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Dowd05/06/10
Very interesting. You brought in good dialect and touched on the emotions of one working on--or having completed a manuscript...Hope you rate high on the Editor's list...
Sarah Elisabeth 05/11/10
Very good characterizations here! Ah, if only we could all have our favorite author tell us our first manuscript was a future best seller :-D

Your writing skills are shining in this one!
Beth LaBuff 05/11/10
I could see the careful concern over the preparation of the manuscript. What a fun story this turned out to be, with encouragement to all writers too! ;)
Joanne Sher 05/11/10
Enjoyed this - great message for ALL of us holding back our unpublished masterpieces (raising hand HIGH LOL).
Mildred Sheldon05/11/10
AHH! Fear can stop us in our tracks. This is right on and it was beautifully written. Thank you. I enjoyed this very much.
Loren T. Lowery05/12/10
This had a dream-like quality and I was honestly hoping the MC would never awake and realize her dream. The angst you showed coming from your MC seemed very real and something I think all writers can identify with. I liked the testimony of the published author - very reassuring words.
Caitlyn Meissner05/13/10
I'm sorry I didn't find this sooner. :(

I loved the doubts your main character has. I know that may seem weird to say, but I have doubts about my writing all the time. It made her seem real to me. And I'm glad your article had a happy ending. How wonderful to finally be published.