A Christmas Story

“But how are you going to start it?” asked the apprentice.

“I don’t know yet.”

The author began to jot down whatever came to mind, striving not to over edit as the words appeared. He felt his breathing strengthen and slow as he did so, feeling more comfortable with each
passing moment.

“But you haven’t finished anything in three years.”

“Not true, my apprentice. I’ve finished a couple of short stories, and edited the werewolf story at least three times. It’s all work, good work, some of my finest. In fact, I added another chapter to the novel last year. As you well know.”

“A year and a half ago, as I recall. Your creative juices have not been percolating as they should. Have you given up?”

The author paused at the keyboard, sighing softly. “Not yet. I pray not ever. It’s been hard. It’s been hard listening to your constant whining and complaining, my ever-present companion. You forget the multiple job losses, the work challenges, the time constraints, the new grandson. There are so many – distractions.”

“Oh, my, yes, especially the distractions you record on the DVR. You may claim it saves time because you can fast-forward through the commercials, but when I look at the hours you spend staring into that screen – don’t tell me that your problems are all external. And it doesn’t help that you’ve got a new, larger screen that makes the watch so much more enticing.”

“All right! All right! I get it!” The author returned to his writing. “I’m trying to change that. The least you could do is give me some encouragement.”

“But why should I believe that this time will be any different? Why is this not a paraphrase of Mark Twain?”

“I know where you’re going with this. Twain famously said ‘Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.’ You have a point, it’s simple to say I’m going to start writing, put it off for a day, then until next week, or crank out a short story to assuage my guilt before slipping back into my bad habits. I see it as well as you.” The author paused for a moment, closing his eyes. “But I think I’ve reached a turning point.”

“Well, do tell!”

“Buddha said that ‘An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.’ I’ve always had interesting ideas – from drunken leprechauns to werewolves for hire, but they have limited impact, if any, until I write the book and share the magic. I’m proud of being a published author, but just the other day I had an energizing experience.
“My web site has had broken links for years now. I wasn’t getting any hits on my storefront that I was paying big bucks for, so I dropped the service. No problem since all of my books are on Amazon and kindle, right? But I never updated the links to point to where folks could buy them now.”

“That was dumb.”

“That was the same problem as the writing. I put things off because I didn’t see them having an immediate impact in my life. But I enjoy sharing the stories. I love being an author. So many people out there can’t believe it’s possible to become a published author. I can, because I love stories. So I decided to do something about it. Not just think about it like I have been, but fix the broken links. It took me a while to rediscover where I put everything, but I did it. Now people can see the reviews, order from anywhere in the world, and it looks more professional.”

“How does that fix your writing problem, though?”

“It felt good to see everything working like a well-oiled machine. Satisfaction? In spades. And it made me feel that if I could fix the links to my books, I could start writing on a regular basis again. I could finish my novel, update the blog, maybe enter a short story contest. I guess you could say this is my first stab at it. Writing again, I mean.”

“Well, you are writing, and that’s a start. What keeps you from stopping right now, though, filing the story away and going to bed? Lord knows you could use the rest, you’ve had a busy day.”

“That’s what I’m talking about. It’s Christmas. And Christmas is still a special day. Do you know why?”

“Of course I know why. It’s because of all the presents and the food and the joy in your grandchildren’s eyes.”

“Don’t be stupid, apprentice. It’s because of the story.”

“Which story?”

“The story of Christmas. The real Christmas that we celebrate at heart, the coming of the Son of God to earth, Jesus born in the manger while angels sang his glory to simple shepherds. The hope of all mankind, as God gave his creation the greatest present ever on the first Christmas. The story that inspires all of us.”

“Point taken. But why does that help you to write?”

The author shook his head. “You’re not paying attention. It’s stories that capture people’s imaginations, that motivate them to rejoice, or rage, or care. The idea for that story is lost if not put into shoe leather. If I keep a story, a good story, a great story locked up inside my head, it’s wasted. Some kid or adult somewhere will never enjoy the twists and turns of the plot, or admire a character if I don’t bring them to life on the page. So I’m energized, and I want to start and keep going, and… well, it’s Christmas. What better time to turn over a new leaf? What better opportunity to change for the better?”

“So – what are you going to do about it?”

“For starters, I’m going to post this story to my blog. Second, I’m going to link the story to my Facebook friends. Believe it or not, I have a lot of folks rooting for me to write my books. I need to get on that bandwagon, too!”

The apprentice nodded and smiled. “See there, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you forever. But you’re kind of like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ you can’t go home even if you have the power to do so, until you believe in yourself. Now you’re taking that first step.”

“I know.” The author smiled as he typed in the final paragraph. “One last edit and I’ll post this on Christmas Day. It does make me happy. But do you know what’s better?”

“Of course I do, I’m your loyal apprentice. It might make someone else happy, and give them hope.”