Writing is like knitting. When you write or knit properly and take time to learn the craft, you can enjoy hours of pleasure from doing it. However, if you don’t take the time to learn the skill carefully, the needles or pen can be your downfall, stabbing away at your heart and making you angry or upset. It just depends on whether you’re patient.
These words ran through Ruby McClure’s mind as she typed away at her old-fashioned typewriter that her grandmother had given her. Click! Click! Click! She pulled the page out of the typewriter and quickly re-read what she had written. Of course, she wasn’t nearly satisfied. Scowling in frustration, Ruby ripped the page into pieces and tossed it in the direction of the garbage can, where the pieces floated through the air and landed on the floor.
Ruby’s deceased grandmother’s words came back to her as if her grandmother whispered them in her ear. Ruby knew that writing took time to learn, and you have to practice to master it. But, Ruby thought in exasperation, I have practiced, and if my writing doesn’t get accepted, how will I pay the bills? This was true. Ruby always knew that she wanted to be a writer, and she had always thought about that as she went through middle school, got her high school diploma, and graduated from college, but none of her novels had been accepted for publication. When she gave up her full-time job as a receptionist to become a freelance writer, acceptance became critical. Ruby’s only source of income came from writing short stories and submitting them to contests and magazines, but that wasn’t enough. After watching bill after unpaid bill stack up on her kitchen counter, Ruby started to doubt herself. She began to write more and more, which was good, but, reading it over, she recognized a forced quality in her writing, something that she had pointed out in a piece by a critiquing partner in a writing club that she had abandoned a few months ago. And nothing had been accepted.
Ruby was sure she had taken time to learn the craft, but she knew that she couldn’t spend her life trying to convince herself that her novels were being rejected by numerous publishing houses because she hadn’t taken enough time to practice. Be patient, her grandmother would say.
Ruby rubbed her temple wearily and decided to take a break to go check the mail. She stood up from the old swivel chair that she spent many hours of her day in. Since the extra bedroom that she called her office was so tiny, Ruby didn’t even have to turn to open the door that stood to the left of her desk. She cast one last glance behind her shoulder at the office as she stepped out the door, taking in the shelves, packed with books and papers and threatening to collapse any day, the card table that she called her desk, and the typewriter sitting upon it, an old, manual Underwood with a few broken keys, the only possession of her grandmother’s that Ruby had left. Ruby blinked in the bright light that came through a small window on the opposite wall and shut the door behind her. She walked down the hallway, enjoying the familiar sounds of creaking floorboards under her feet. Ruby opened a door and stepped onto a small porch. The paint was chipping off at the edges, and one side’s rails had already begun to rot. Ruby ambled down the driveway, blinking in the bright sunlight and enjoying the feel of fresh air on her skin, and remembered that she had to mow the lawn as soon as she got a chance, which, with her busy writing schedule, could take as long as two weeks to get to.
She pulled open the mailbox and sorted through the envelopes, mostly magazines and junk mail, including one bill that Ruby opened with dread. She gasped as she read her electric and water bills. How can I ever pay this off? she thought. A knot grew in her stomach. Ruby pursed her lips and closed her eyes, wishing for the thousandth time that her novels would get accepted and she would be able to pay off the bills.
One more letter still sat in the back of the crooked mailbox, a letter in a fancy envelope with curly cursive writing on the front that said:
13330 Beach View Lane
The return address was the one of a publishing house in North Dakota that Ruby remembered she had submitted to about a month ago.
Ruby opened the letter casually, as she was sure that this was just another rejection letter. She didn’t even want to see what suggestions the editor would have for her novel.
Only one sentence caught her eye: “Your novel, The Mage of Malilea, has been accepted for publication.”
Ruby skimmed through the rest of the letter as it went on to explain what the editor liked about the manuscript, things that the editor would like to improve, the publishing contract, and so on. She barely processed the words, as she was absorbed in her success.
Ruby stared at the letter, not daring to believe it. She lowered her hand and pulled out the enclosed contract that was also in the envelope. There it was, real, solid proof.
Ruby raced back into her house, threw the letter onto the kitchen table, and, grabbing her cell phone, proceeded to call all of her friends.
“Guess what, Becca?” Ruby nearly shouted into the telephone.
“They accepted my manuscript!”
Becca let out a shriek on the other end of the phone. “This is amazing, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, they’re going to publish you!”
A few minutes later, after Ruby called everyone she knew to celebrate, she dropped into a comfortable leather armchair and closed her eyes. A single tear fell down her cheek.
Her grandmother’s words came drifting back to her. Be patient. Ruby smiled. Her grandmother was right.