Once upon a time, a certain writer (guess who?) submitted a story to a certain, prestigious publication. The tale was about a woman and a man struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, filled with toxic air and huge, predatory machines.
It was romantic, in a future-world sort of way. Suspenseful, with a splash of literary flair. Bleak, yet tinged with hope.
Tonally, and in terms of subject matter, the story seemed like a perfect fit.
And, as that certain publication is known for, a response swiftly entered the writer’s inbox, a mere day or so later.
“Thank you for the opportunity to read your story,” the response began. “Unfortunately . . .”
Well, you can guess the rest.
And of course, our heroic writer (because our POV character is always the hero of the story, even if they are, technically, a villain) began to doubt himself, and the measure of his abilities.
Was the narrative too conventional? Were the emotions too commonplace?
Was the writing simply . . . not good enough?
And of course, our hero contemplated the usual response: to withdraw from society, to steal construction equipment in the moonlit dead of night, and to secretly dig a cavernous lair from which he could slowly mold himself into a subterranean hermit, surrounded by steaming, clockwork machines and bizarre, organic computers connected to filthy, experimental rats, until one glorious day, far in the future, when he will rise as The Earth-Man (or some similar ridiculous name), cowl-clad and cackling, with his horde of cybernetic rodents, ready to UNLEASH HIS VENGEANCE UPON THE WORLD!
Or, maybe, he could cling to his sanity and keep doing what he’s been doing all along: writing, and learning, and finding his own voice, and not worrying about the eventual snags along the way, because every path we take in life will undoubtedly be littered with rocks.
And we must not let every stone we stumble over become a cause for self-destruction.
We must keep striding ahead, with one eye on the ground, and the other aimed, optimistically, toward the horizon. Otherwise, what’s the point?
And maybe, one day, when our heroic writer stubs his toe on another prominent rock, instead of sniffling and cautiously doubting his stride, he’ll simply kick the rock aside and continue marching along, letting nothing stand in his way—as we all should strive to do, in our own unique ways.
And so—as is my new habit to do so—here’s another awkward departing note:
Au revoir, my clever comrade. Let no rock stand in your way.