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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by ally on March 2, 2009
"This may be the only one of my stories that has ever actually written itself."


I never really thought I was important.

I was an old book, my homemade spine held together with wire and little bits of yarn. I seemed to be a permanent fixture in the bookstore that I lived in, and so I never bothered to stop the dust from building up on my cover. Instead, I spent my time watching the people who came into the store.

Sometimes a short old lady would hobble in, leaning on a cane that was almost as old as I was, and make an inquiry about a book for her granddaughter. Sometimes a mother would come rushing in, her left arm clamped tightly around a newborn baby and her right arm dragging a young boy behind her. Rarely, I caught sight of a person or two outside of the bookstore; a man wearing a pinstripe suit, a tired-looking college student, or a girl with an iced tea lemonade in her hand. But these people never came into the bookstore. They had no need for books like me.

A man walked into the bookstore one day; he was wearing a black pea coat and his hair was short, though it showed evidence of being newly cut. He had the slightest hint of stubble around his chin, and when he smiled at the lady behind the cash register, I could see the pink in her cheeks.

They talked for a few moments, too quietly for me to overhear. Then the lady stood up, and I caught her next sentence.

"I have just the book for you."

Smooth hands glided over my cover, and I felt myself being lifted from the wooden shelf. I tried to shake the dust from my pages, but I was being held so tightly that I couldn't move.

"This one's special, you see."

I was dropped from the smooth hands into a pair of rough ones, and I felt a thumb leaf through my pages.

"You wrote it, didn't you?" I heard the man ask, and his fingers gripped my cover even tighter.

"It was a long time ago. I don't write anymore." There was silence, and I struggled to turn over in the man's hands to see what was going on. "I'm more ... realistic now."

"You've changed," came the reply. The man placed me gently down next to the cash register. "I haven't stopped writing."

"My writing never got me anywhere. You were always better at it than me, anyway. You were always better at everything."

"You don't write to be the best. You write because ... if you didn't, you would die." I felt myself being picked back up and thrust back at the lady. "Maybe I overestimated you."

"You think its not killing me? The words keep building up inside of me, but I have no way of sharing them ... no one who's willing to read them."

For a second time, there was silence. I hung awkwardly between the two people, not sure whose hands I would end up in next.

"Come with me, then," the man said finally, taking a step towards the door. "I have a house. You can write there. We can both write there."

"But what about my books?" the lady asked, pointing at the piles of books stacked neatly behind her.

"This is the only one that's important."

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