Irene Heron

October 17: Started my first attempt at writing fan fiction today! I've had this opening scene in my head for weeks now, and out it came, just as perfect as I'd imagined. Sorry dinner's late tonight, guys. Guess what, I started writing a story!

October 18: Read my brilliant opening scene over. Hmmm. Maybe it isn't quite as perfect as I thought. Guess I'd better make a few changes. You're hungry, sweetie? Fix yourself a bowl of cereal, mommy's busy right now.

October 19: Spent two hours yesterday revising the opening scene but it still isn't right! I'm doomed to spend eternity rewriting the same six paragraphs! All right, look what that stupid dog did to my notebook. Geez, everybody's a critic! Just whose turn was it to walk him anyway? Oh.... mine, huh? Guess I lost track of time.

October 20: Forget the rewrites for now. I'm moving on with the next section of the story. Except... I had this wonderful opening scene all planned out and nothing beyond that. Whatever made me think I could write? Oh, give me a break, I am not ignoring you! And stop exaggerating. The house is not a disaster area.

October 26: I suppose I should look at that stupid story again, since I told everybody I had started writing one. They'll be pestering me to show it to them soon. I'd rather scrub toilets than put myself through this torture. No, I'm not in a bad mood! What makes you think that?

October 28: I like what I wrote today, but who knows how it'll read tomorrow? Did I start on your Halloween costume yet, honey? Sorry, I think they cancelled Halloween this year.

October 29: Only one new page today, but spent hours revising everything else! I really hate that opening scene. Iron your own shirts, you lazy son of a...

November 1: Took me two hours just to crank out a couple of paragraphs. I revised everything as long as I was at the computer. Mortgage payment? What mortgage payment? Hey, stop yelling, will you?

November 2: Oh, this is wonderful. I read those dreaded six opening paragraphs and they sounded just fine this time. I think I might turn out to be a pretty good writer. Okay, okay! I'll get around to painting that last wall in the living room soon. Sheesh, It's only been a couple of weeks!

November 3: Took the car in for repairs today and brought my notebook with me. Other people in the customer lounge are giving me strange looks. Doesn't everybody sit bolt upright and shriek, 'Yes, that's just what Han would say!' and then scribble furiously?

November 4: Ack! Who crept in during the night and corrupted my fan fiction? I'm reading a piece of garbage! I don't have a clue what to do now. Stressed? Why would I be stressed? And why are you handing me a little blue pill?

November 5: Inspiration struck at long last! Yes, the words are coming now! The Force is with me today! Come to bed early for a change? Hell, no! I'm on a roll here! Er, I have a headache, I mean... yeah, that's it. I have a headache.

November 6: I got the big climactic scene done, and now the perfect title, too! I'm exhausted, but so happy. My story's almost done, dear, let's celebrate by eating out tonight! What do you mean, you'd settle just for eating, period?

November 8: I just reread my fanfic. It must be the worst story ever written! How could I have created such drivel? I revise yet again, but this story is beyond redemption. Where's the dog when you need him?

November 9: Spent the entire day revamping the story into a new format. There's no food in the kitchen? I hear that fasting is supposed to be very healthy. Why don't you give it a try?

November 10: Told the editor my story was complete and I'd have it for her in a day or two. Why, oh why, didn't I read the story again before I sent that message? I've wasted three weeks writing this piece of junk! And I thought it would be fun to write fan fiction?

November 12: Cut huge chunks out of my story and practically rewrote the blasted thing from scratch! Finally, finally, it's the story I intended to write. Emailed it off to the editor. What do you mean, the PTA meeting starts in ten minutes?

November 13: Friday the 13th. How appropriate. Did she get my masterpiece? No acknowledgement. Good grief, it must be truly awful! Why didn't I revise one last time? I hope we have a refill left on those little blue pills.

November 16: She liked it! She liked it! Two pages of comments on why she liked it! She's going to publish my story! Whoever said writing was like sweating blood?

November 18: Now that my editor has re-read my story, she says she has just a few suggestions to improve my story. Happily I say, well, send them to me and I'll make all the changes at one time. What do you mean, you invited your family here for Thanksgiving dinner? The living room painting isn't even done yet!

December 1: Why did I ever begin this stupid project? A handful of minor changes? How about three pages worth of revisions! No, honey, what I really said was 'Sith', not that other word!

December 5: I make the revisions, and swallowing ego, have to admit that for the most part the changes do improve the story. I defend two points of pride; she relents. I feel I have won a major victory. Well, I guess I should be pleased. The only part of the story that escaped revision was that opening scene! Whew! Maybe now I can start with the Christmas cards.

December 8: She received my revisions, but finds fault with a couple of them. I am embarrassed to admit she found some glaring problems with my rewrites. I am so sick of this story! I hope this is the end and I can finally finish painting my living room. My family extracts a promise that I will never write fan fiction again. Well, it's more of a threat, really...

May 28: Here I am at my first con! And I get to see my story in print for the first time. I hold the zine reverently in my hands for a moment. It's a dream come true. I'm a published author. Unpaid, but published. I admire my name for long minutes, and then, with trembling fingers I slowly turn the pages, seeing a favorite word here, a hard-written paragraph there. This moment ranks right up there with the great events of my life - wedding day, birth of my children....

Wait, what's this? Where's the end of my story? My fingers flip the pages quickly - was there an error in collating the pages? Where, oh, where is the ending to my story? That beautiful, brilliant ending, wrung from the depths of my soul at great emotional cost and considerable effort. My hands go numb and I drop the zine. My eyes glaze unseeingly. It isn't there. The final paragraphs of my story are not in the zine. My wonderful story ends... pointlessly and meaninglessly. Blood congeals in my veins and I can't breathe. The editor notices my distress and rushes to apologize... a printshop foulup she didn't catch in time. But she offers a fix, a xeroxed insert with the missing page. I help her slip the inserts into every single copy of the zine, muttering imprecations as I do.

May 31: Despite the bitter shock of finding my story severely truncated, I've had more fun in three days than I've had in the last three years. And I've traded plenty of horror stories with other authors - my suffering pales in comparison. 'Keep up the good work,' says the cursed editor as she waves goodbye. 'I want to see more of your stories next year.' I think of my crushing disappointment at the printer's error. I think of the price of writing my first fanfic: forgotten meals, abandoned chores, mountains of unwashed underwear and a grumpy, unsatisfied spouse. I open my mouth to say No way! Absolutely not! but to my horror, an enthusiastic 'You will!' comes out instead.

I refuse to think of the partially completed wallpaper project in my dining room. And it's high time my family learned where the stove is anyway.


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