My Book, My Baby

In my first year of college I had an English professor who gave us a short story writing assignment.  I loved writing, so naturally dove in and really poured my soul into it. However, regardless of how great I thought my piece was, I was loathe to turn it in even though it was my best work thus far. My professor noticed my angst. When she asked what was wrong, I told her how nervous I was for anyone to read my story. She told me, “Your book is your baby”.  How right she was! I left it on her desk feeling like I had left a little part of me with her. I felt doubtful, overprotective of my story; ready to defend it from anyone who criticized it, like a mama bear. And I thought; would she understand it? Would she “get” me as a writer?

I always wanted to become a novelist but how was I to do so if I over-scrutinized my work for flaws and could not take criticism, constructive or otherwise? And any time I got an A instead of an A+ on my writing I felt chagrined. As writers we have a complete dependency on our readers (aka critics) so if I were to have a chance in hell to write professionally, I would need to get a thicker skin and have a mind that stayed open to feedback. It is easier said than done,of course. We think our stories are near perfect so how are we to embrace helpful criticism and not lay bleeding over what isn’t ?

Years went by and many stories later I hit a certain milestone in my life where I finally emerged from my theoretical hole to face my fears. Twenty years had gone by since that college English class and thereafter I had written tomes of material, all neglected due to my fear of criticism and rejection. I finally said “Who the hell cares!?” I was going to get negative feedback sometimes. People weren’t always going to get me. And sometimes I would have to go in and change some of the content of my writing while still keeping the integrity of my work true to my style. I needed to learn to grow from exposure, not shrink back into that shell of protection and ultimately, stagnation.

Happily I have published a work of mine recently and true to what I predicted, I received a range of feedback which I used to tweak my manuscript. It took some self-talk and open-mindedness to accept suggestions on my writing but learning to rise above those feelings of uncertainty and protectiveness for my material has been a treasured strength. As writers, each of us has a place in the literary world- there is room for all of us! And our books will always be our “babies” but they have the potential to be our best works if we take the criticism with the compliments as equal in value.



The Girl In The Mist

The Girl In The Mist: A Romantic Vignette



The Figure At The Window


It was around 8 pm and I was at the sink filling my kettle for a much-needed cup of tea. I remember the night well, as it was an unusually foggy, misty evening. I was renting a bungalow in northern Norway on the lake of Langevatnet because it was remote and picturesque- perfect for the job that landed me there as a travel writer.


Because my English is quite good, I had come all the way from Oslo a few weeks earlier to write an article for an American magazine about the beauty and mystery of the waterways of Norway. I had left the hustle and bustle of the city to stay near a few of the lesser known fjords. Norway is full of them- they are everywhere you turn.


Just thirty at the time of my tale, I was quite comfortably a bachelor and quite satisfied in my little bungalow. Because it was near the water, it was often misty, as was that night but I had never come across anything unusual before. But that night, as I stood at the window my eyes seemed to be playing tricks on me. I saw a form pass by my window and glide along noiselessly in the direction of the stone bridge. I was not alarmed and I don’t know why but I did not take the form for a person, but rather a wayward reindeer or moose, as I had seen them many times in that region of Norway.


Soon enough, my kettle whistled and I made my tea and put a few more logs on the fire as it was a chilly evening in late October. After my tea, as I was washing up, I noticed out the window that the fog had shifted enough to reveal a figure of a person on the bridge.




I was tentative and nervous as I threw on my heavy woollen coat and made my way outside towards the figure. I soon saw it was a lady but she was nearly obscured by the fog with her light blue coat and pale blonde hair.


She was standing up on the stone side of the bridge, her back facing me. As stupid as I was (or what I would like to consider as naive) it did not occur to me what was actually in progress until I saw her step off of the side.


The splash of water snapped me out of my stupor and I threw off my jacket and jumped in after her. The icy water knocked the wind out of me. It stung and bit at my flesh and I could not see for the fog and dark but I was able to follow the sound of her distress. I grabbed hold of the unwilling girl and pushed her onto the dry embankment. She lay still but breathing and I assumed she had fainted. Gathering her up in my arms, I carried her up to my bungalow.


Inside, I laid her down near the fireplace and unbuttoned her soggy coat, peeled it off of her and tossed it aside. Then I covered her in a rough woollen blanket.


“Miss?” I said softly and shook her lightly. Her face and hair were as pale as the fog but her lips were blue with cold and she had a flush in her cheeks. I shook her again and a pair of light blue eyes flickered open and looked upon me.


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