Tell A Tale in 500 Words
Ego Strip By Sian Scott-Milton
Letting out a desperate groan, as I clamped my hands to my head, I glared at the screen. Another page of alarming dross glared back.
“I'm going to get a few short stories into Quiet Times before I move onto more challenging stuff.” I had told my friend as I proudly handed her my first manuscript. She'd given me a slightly funny look, I'm not sure why, we were always talking about writing professionally.
“What do you think?” I clamoured, when she'd finished.
“Well, it doesn't exactly fit the guidelines.” Guidelines? Ah.
They had been recklessly swept aside in my exhilarating romp through a grisly tale of torture and murder with my doomed aristocrat. It was Midsomer Murders on speed.
With a gleeful click of the mouse, she summoned the submission's advice, and placed it in front of me: “...experiences everyone can relate to... ordinary people...entertaining, not shocking...positive outcome.” The phrases regarded me sternly from the screen. It took a moment to absorb the extent of my deviancy.
“And isn't it waay too long?” she smiled sweetly.
Surely even older readers want a bit of variety in their weekly magazine? I grumbled darkly, as I hammered away again, now barely able to produce a decent sentence. Six weeks and three days later, I wrestled the second attempt to completion. Was the style too wordy? The lesbian relationship may be unwise. I should definitely drop the drugs angle. Finally, the truth was faced, and with a grimace, I opened another blank document.
Script after script was scrapped. Before long, I would be writing maniacally about child sacrifice and devil-worship, sniggering long into the night as, unwashed, and squawking out bits of writing guidelines, Tourettes-like, I plunged into a purgatory of ego-shattering incompetence. I went on holiday.
“How's the writing going?” she asked as we contemplated our toes on the beach.
“Oh, not bad, not bad.” I wriggled and fixed my gaze on the horizon, wishing I had been more private about my intentions.
“Anything published yet?” she twinkled.
Home. Smouldering. The writing course starts tomorrow. I'll show her.
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