by Sam N. Yago
By day, Richard is a mild-mannered accountant; by night he is the amazing FantasyWriter
|…and the White Fairy gracefully waved her wand, in a manner that almost everyone in the village could see. Richard had been waiting for this moment—he knew that the spell the White Fairy was about to cast would save his village. He could barely contain his excitement, as he found a rock on which to perch himself higher just to be able to better hear her words. Finally, the White Fairy parted her beautiful lips to speak.
“Beep…beep…beep…” she began softly, and the crowd moaned in awe. Everyone, that was, except Richard.
“Beep…beep…beep…” the White Fairy continued, although this time, at a much higher pitch than when she began. As if on cue, the crowd continued to moan more loudly.
Beep…Beep…Beep…? Richard wondered, confused about the words coming out of the White Fairy’s mouth. He looked around at the other villagers, and saw that they were beaming—many were laughing with glee, almost hysterically. What’s going on? Richard asked himself, as his anxiety began to grow. Was the White Fairy casting a different spell than what she had promised to him? Had she instead bewitched the townspeople into madness?
“Beep…! Beep…!! Beep…!!!” the White Fairy spoke directly to Richard now, as she began to float in his direction, her tone increasing in pitch. Fear entered Richard’s body, as the White Fairy continued toward him. He also realized that the villagers were looking in his direction, and had started to close in on him.
“What have you done?!” he heard himself screaming to the White Fairy, as she drew even closer. Townspeople were pressing against him, some had begun to paw at him with frightening regard. “What’s happening?!”
“Beep!!! Beep!!! Beep!!!” the White Fairy bellowed even more loudly, as Richard saw her hovering above him, a menacing expression on her formerly docile face. She reached out her hand to touch his face, and Richard screamed in horror…
Richard awoke with a start, temporarily confused about his surroundings. He reached across his bed to press the snooze button on his alarm clock, which stated a time that was too early for most people. A smile broke across his sleepy face, as he turned on his bedside lamp, and grabbed the small notebook and pen that were on the nightstand. He flipped several pages open until he’d found a blank sheet, and began to write.
He jotted down mostly words and phrases—village in turmoil, White Fairy, evil Marauders, heroic elf—and other details that he could vividly remember about the dream he'd just had. He didn’t know what would become of these ideas, but always made sure to write them down upon waking. Who knows, he mused, it may just have the makings of the next bestseller.
At least, he thought to himself, I hope I can write a story about it that will receive fantastic reviews and ratings. He laughed at the thought, got out of bed, and walked over to his laptop. He turned it on, and sleepily waited for it to power up. Excitement began building up inside him, as he wondered what kind of emails lay waiting for him to read. He opened his browser, and entered the address of a very familiar website. He smiled.
Richard lived two lives. By day, he was an accountant at a downtown law firm. By night (and indeed, in between projects at work), he was FantastyWriter, a handle he’d chosen for himself when he registered on a website designed as a tool for authors, poets, and other scribes. He loved the website for all that it offered, and had even gotten a few of his friends to register as well, even as just readers. He was proud of the works he already had in his portfolio, and always looked forward to being able to add new items. He didn’t consider himself a great writer yet, but he also wasn’t bad. In fact, he’d always been quite good at writing, but had never really considered it being more than just a hobby. In this website, his creative writing certainly became more than that. He’d composed works that had even received accolades from fellow writers on the website, and he was proud of himself. I knew all those creative writing classes in high school and college had to come in handy someday, he thought, amusing himself.
The website did have an impact that Richard hadn’t expected. He didn’t necessarily treat it as wrong, but he did have to work at curbing it. Without realizing, he had become addicted to the website and what it offered, that thoughts of activity within it would linger in his mind throughout the day. At work, he would find himself constantly fighting the urge to login to the website to see if there were any emails waiting to be read, or if there were any new contests that might interest him. Was there a new poll in which he needed to participate? How about a new crossword or word search puzzle that required his intellect?
But, Richard had found a way to curb these addictive tendencies. Instead of waking up just an hour before he had to go to work, he would wake up two hours earlier, so that he could get some creative writing done for at least an hour in the morning. Then he would devote two to three hours per evening reading and writing on the website, the scroll window open on one side of the monitor. Those scroll games were always very fun. Then, on the weekends, it’s “no holds barred.” He was glad to have planned things so well.
Seven emails, Richard noted, excitedly. I bet they loved “The House of Water Lillies.” I mean, why wouldn’t they? He opened the first email, and noticed that the subject matter indeed indicated a reference to “The House of Water Lillies.” The smile on Richard’s face disappeared as he read the content of the email. His eyes fell on the portion of the email message that shocked him.
”Three stars?!” he yelled aloud, despite being alone in his room. “How can you give it only three stars?! It’s a great story!!” Richard was fuming, but decided to simply move to the next email to read. From one email to another, Richard was devastated at the low scores and awful reviews included within. “Character development must be improved” one had written; “The tenses were mixed up in some parts of the story” another had noted; “I don’t even know who your intended audience is” one wrote, as if to offer a final blow to his ego. There were a couple of fours and fives, but the reviews were mostly horrible.
But, nothing infuriated him more than the first email he read, which came from SciFiWriter, whose portfolio he decided to visit. Hmph, he snorted. Lots of four-and-a-halfs and fives here. He scanned the list of items on the portfolio, and went to an item that had a five star rating and thirty-two member reviews. He clicked on it, expecting it to be as great as its rating. Rate me poorly, huh? We’ll see if you’re any good…
It turned out that SciFiWriter was not just good, he was great, and Richard found himself enjoying three other items on the portfolio. By then, Richard’s fury had diminished into an accepting resolve. Not everyone will like his work, he supposed. I’m sure even Stephen King had gotten bad reviews when he first started. All great writers did.
He responded to all the emails that he’d received, swallowing his pride to especially thank those from whom he'd garnered unfavorable ratings. He did get a few valuable pointers in the emails on how to potentially improve the story, so for those he was truly grateful. He spent another fifteen minutes reading items on the portfolios of his other reviewers, making sure to rate and review each one. “House of Water Lillies” will be getting a rewrite tonight, he vowed, before turning off his computer.
As he got ready for work, thoughts about the White Fairy, the evil Marauders, and the doomed villagers floated inside his head, as incarnations of one scene after another played themselves out. But he quickly brushed these thoughts away, and focused his attention on the demands of the day that lay ahead.
There would always be time for writing later.