It’s just 500 words. Nothing to get worked up about. Nouns and verbs holding hands as they walk through the snow, keeping their little adjectives and adverbs in plain sight so they don’t wander off into the woods to lose their way.It’s just another story. Even though I was pert-near sure that the last one would definitely be the last one. But then I started hiking through some ideas, and the phrase, “It’s just 500 words,” was like a hidden root under the path, tripping me up just enough to come and jot it down.
And so, I did.
I gave up writing my little stories a couple of weeks ago because I’ve always felt like a fraud doing it, even though the local newspaper gave me a fair amount of space for my ponderings as well as a small stipend. Some people said they even enjoyed reading it. Still, I didn’t feel right about continuing. Type up some nonsense, give the story a somewhat funny plot turn, end it with a quip or two about this or that, email it off to the publisher and not really worry about it being corrected or rejected because they really just wanted some copy to fill a hole – like cheap asphalt to cover up a pothole in the middle of a small country road.
I read a lot, so I believe I can somewhat tell good writing from bad. I know what I like and what I don’t like. It’s just I didn’t feel like my stuff matched up to what I thought was worthy or worthwhile.
So, I stopped. And the sun still came up the next morning.
(To be honest, it would have felt good if the “powers that be” and said, “Whoa, there, good buddy. Our readers prefer your work over all others. So, how about some more cash to keep those words a flowing in our direction?” I might have written a few more, but it would have ended the same way.)
I don’t know if these 500 words will be more heartfelt than any of the other 500 words I’ve ever written, but it’s worth giving it a try. Who knows, maybe I’ll come across a frozen river of meaningful thoughts and opinions just waiting for me to sit by the bank and stick around until they are good and defrosted. Maybe I’ll warm them up in my hands, breathe a little bit of life into them, and then set them free to see which way the wind blows them.
So, at least for a little while, these words are just for me. Not for the grandmother across town, not for my co-workers, not for my mother or wife who will always love whatever I write, and especially not to just fill some empty space. Unless it’s the empty space inside of myself from which whispers words of defeat.
I never thought I’d say this, but it feels pretty good to being shoveling 500 words again.