“The only time I want to see a whole lot of red inky letters on paper is when Jesus is talking in my Bible, not when I have to hand you back your manuscript!” Mr. Hopeheld drummed his fingers on his desk, the frustration in his eyes melting into compassion.
“Don’t look so chewed up. You and I both know you can do better than this. This,” He stabbed his pointer finger into the tome upon his shiny desktop. “This was a distracted effort of lifeless words and that just isn’t who you are.”
The tempered rebuke from Lloyd’s publisher a week ago had nearly given him an ulcer. The sad thing was Mr. Hopeheld was right in all he said. The only problem was that him being right had not helped Lloyd one iota. He’d only told him what he’d already known.
Lloyd didn’t believe in writer’s block. The truth was he always had something to say, always had some character whispering in his ears, flashing pictures of their questionable misadventures before his eyes.
But the sudden fearful indifference that had wrapped tight hold of him like sodden leather was what made him shrink back from his laptop. Even now he felt his pulse thrumming in his ears as he stood looking at it from across the room.
The last thing he wanted to do–again–was write thousands of words of garbage fit for nothing more than the lining of a chicken coup. But the moment his love for storytelling had turned into something akin to tree kicking he just couldn’t bring himself to do it…not like he should.
The problem was he had signed on to write what he was told by others; by his critics and naysayers, by blog-reviewers who did nothing but spew acid upon the written attempts of those who’d actually stuck their necks out to accomplish their dreams.
Those hacks could only trash others while building themselves up on platforms of how they would have done it better. And the readers were eating it up.
Lloyd had even eaten it to his own demise.
Rolling his shirt up over his head he turned from the desk again and screamed. He’d done this to himself. Even Mr. Hopeheld had said so.
“Lloyd, who cares what your critiques say. It’s your fans who matter. When they start ripping you apart on their blogs then you know you have a problem. But these guys, these soul-suckers who always know how to ‘do it better’ never ‘do it.’ They are irrelevant.” He picked up Lloyd’s manuscript, all 350 pages worth, and tipped it in the wastebasket.
Lloyd felt the color drain from his face. Hopeheld took hold of his shoulders. “You get your behind back to that condo of yours and you write again, but this time you write from your heart, you write it for you first, with your audience in mind second. And when you write your story, let your words be pure, true, engaging. If you don’t like it. If you’re not moved, we won’t be either.” He clapped him on the back for good measure as if he were his coach. “Go move us, son. Do what you were created to do. Move us!”
Pulling his shirt back down over his chest, Lloyd put on his game face. He’d written a great story before. He was going to do it again. No matter what his critics had to say.
Who were ‘they’ anyway?
*Written February 23, 2016