Writing fiction

A YEAR OR SO ago, I put the last pencil edits on a fiction manuscript I'd been writing and printed it out so I could send it off. The next day I spent the time I would normally have spent writing, just being grateful to God for my talent. But gratitude hadn't always been part of my fiction-writing process.

Although mine might not be a name you'd recognize, my short stories have been published at what is considered in the literary world a steady pace. From the time I could hold a pencil, it always just seemed I "had" to write, that I had no choice. Even if I'd wanted to stop, I couldn't have. It would've been as if someone had placed a pillow over my face while I was sleeping. (I might have lain there quietly for awhile, but sooner or later I would've kicked her in the face so I could breathe!)

That overwhelming need to write, however, didn't necessarily mean I was grateful to God for my talent. Sometimes, I'd meet individuals at parties who'd announce with a dreamy expression, "Oh, I'd like to be a writer!" I'd smile politely. Meanwhile, I'd be thinking, Oh yeah? Why?! It seemed to me that my talent had brought some pretty nasty baggage with it. Artistic envy, for one thing—that strong discomfort I felt whenever someone else got the appreciation I thought I deserved.

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March 19, 2001

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