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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Editor (05/27/10)

TITLE: Run Across the Wharf and Jump
By Loren T. Lowery
06/02/10


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Steve sat across from his editor’s desk, listening. He shook his head. “I didn’t say I couldn’t make the changes, I said I wouldn’t.”

Gil, his editor, pursed his lips. “You’re making a mistake.” He raised a hand, narrowly pinching two fingers together for emphasis. “You’re this close to making it big.”

“Big’s not important to me, Gil. Substance is.”

His editor smirked and stood to look out his office windows that overlooked 5th Avenue in New York City. “Your conviction is admirable, even inspiring, but it won’t pay the bills. My publisher doesn’t want your story the way it’s written.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

He turned to look at him. “Then do something about it.”

“I owe it to my readers and to myself, not to.”

“Where’s this coming from, Steve? You’re a smart, talented man. The genre you’re writing in is passé. Today’s readers are more sophisticated, they don’t want truth couched in some sugary, Mary Poppin’s fairy tale.”

“Do you speak for all readers, or just the ones your publisher caters to? I’d like to think my work reveals truth that reality obscures.” He grinned, musically adding, “‘…in a most delightful way.’”

“I’m not amused and as your editor, I need to let you know that you are on the verge of throwing your career away. People love your work, but it needs to evolve.”

“As my agent I need to let you know, that I’ve evolved as far as I intend. Gil, I know you are good at what you do. I also know the power a good editor can have on a published book.”

“Then let me help.”

“You didn’t let me finish. The editor and the author have to be on the same page. Have the same vision for the book. After reading your suggested changes to my manuscript, I can tell we are polar opposites.”

“In genre only, Steve; I wish I could make you see that. I’ve always loved what you’ve written, but times are changing; and to survive, you must, too.”

“That is the way I express myself - in allegory. That is what my readers have come to expect.”

“Well, in case you haven’t noticed your devoted reading audience is melting faster than spring snow around an Alabama dirt clod and it’s headed straight at you.” He threw a sheet of statistics on the desk. “See for yourself, if you don’t believe me.”

Steve grinned. “Did you just use an allegory on me? Why I do believe hidden beneath that tough hide of your lies a sheathed sword.”

“Don’t patronize me, this is serious.”

“And so am I, Gil. I don’t care what your statistics say, or where that clod of dirt finally ends up. A little mud washing is good for the soul. Maybe what the statistics are saying is I’m not trying hard enough – my readership is down because I’m only skirting the depth of a pond we’re all afraid to wade through. They want someone bold enough to not just dangle their feet over the edge of the wharf and have their toes tickled by tiny ripples, but someone to plunge in to tell them the mysteries that lie beneath.”

“You’re insane.”

“Not really. When they see a shadow in the muddy Mississippi, they don’t want to hear it’s a Siluriformes, a diverse group of ray-fined bottom-feeding catfish; primarily named for their prominent barbells, resembling cat’s whiskers. No, they want to hear of things they can’t see, but only imagine. To hear of wonders small enough to be caught in the twinkle of firefly, yet so vast that man’s dreary, sophisticated mind could never explain them away.”

“You would have all your readers be Peter Pan, never growing up.”

“I would have my readers have a childlike faith seeing beauty and truth are found in letting the mind soar. Letting them discover, as the editor of the New York Sun once told an eleven year-old Virginia, that to make tolerable this existence we need such things as faith, fancy, poetry, love and romance to push aside that which hides the supernatural beauty of the world beyond.”

Gil shook his head. “Nice speech, but it doesn’t change my reader’s profile.”

Steve rose and shook his hand. “I understand. I’ll take it elsewhere. No hard feelings.”

“None, besides, I hope it is published – let me know.”

“To see who would take a chance on me?”

Gil lauged. “No, to run barefoot and jump off that wharf.”

Steve smiled. “Consider it done.”


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This article has been read 451 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 06/03/10
Love this conversation. I felt like I was eavesdropping. I would love to read what this author wrote. Oh, I did:) Great title, too.
Dusti (Bramlage) Zarse06/04/10
The previous comment is right. I felt like an eavesdropper. Great dialogue.
Elizabeth Cain06/04/10
I loved the dialogue too! And the reference to some of my childhood memories of Peter Pan and Mary Pippins :)
This story is really well written. It did feel like I was in the room with them. Very excellent work! Stayed on topic and kept my interest.
Linda Germain 06/09/10
Interesting, sophisticated conversation. Well done!
Joan Campbell06/09/10
Beautiful message. You gave your two characters wonderful 'voices' and dialogue. I loved the poetic quotes and thoughts.