Cabbage Soup

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A writer becomes discouraged by rejection letters and decides to stop writing but, while the tools can be hidden, can one just stop writing?

There came a time in Abigail Charleston's life when she just couldn't pick up the pen. After years and years of writing, the edges of the paper grew sharp with rejection. The ink, though originally blue, decayed into a thick black which spilt onto the page in a screaming mess.

Abby used to cry when she wrote. The chair was such a supportive friend and the plants flourished in the release of her struggles. She had a desk solely for the recording of her breathing daydreams. She never truly understood where her stories came or why her characters were alive enough to tell her when she was on the wrong path. There was little science to explain how her desk turned into jungles and Victorian dining rooms and unexplored lands and war zones filled with hope and love and longing. Abby understood very little about why she had to write, why any day could be made better with only a notebook and her pen.

Until her days didn't get any better at all. In fact, they got worse. You see, Abigail decided she should make money from her writing. She should share it. That way, when she made enough, she could write all day and never feel like she was wasting her time. So she sent her love and her struggles out to share with more than just her plants.

But instead of a community which flourished as much as her flowers, Abigail's courage was rewarded in rejection letters. If rejection letters were cash, she'd be able to support herself and more.

Abigail began to write knowing her words would be turned away. Knowing that the people who drank in the words which made her cry would shake their heads and say it doesn't have enough heart. She stopped writing the things that made her heart sing. Singing hearts don't pay the bills. So instead she wrote what she thought they'd want to hear. Empty words, sure, but words woven together with care and the knowledge of count-less how-to books. Surely, these would work.

But the reality stood strong against her faithful plans. It's impossible to say for sure if she received more rejection. You can't get less than zero. Yet these ones held more of a punch than before. She used to blame her inexperience. Her informal training. But now what could she blame? What factor in her life should be condemned as the target of a pointed finger? Perhaps her stories would thrive if they had been touched by anyone but her.

That's about the time when Abigail Charleston redesigned her office. Her writing books got stuffed under her bed. The typewriter back in the box and her countless notes shoved in the corners. The motivational posters which used to remind her of the glory of writing were torn from the walls and soon in the garage. Until nothing, nothing at all about that office held signs of the dream that used to be. Not even her favorite pen could be seen as a tombstone to mark the death of her dreams.

Time to be practical. Time to live in the real world. Abigail went to work the next morning and convinced herself she loved her job. She changed her five year plan to include things like traveling and saving money and finding some new hobby to pass the time. Her new mantra for life became "This is where I belong" and she believed it. Her job wasn't that bad after all. She helped people in her own faceless way and she never had to take her work with her. When she went home, she truly could be home.

And when she got home from work that day, she plopped onto her couch and sighed. It was surprisingly nice, not having a daily word count hanging over her head. She could do anything she wanted to do. Perhaps she should take a bath. After all, she'd been on her feet all day. Or she could start planning a garden in her little back yard. The kitchen could use some cleaning.

Oh, she thought. The kitchen. A recipe hung on the frig, never been tried before. It was something one of her favorite characters seemed to love but she'd never tried it before. Her description of the meal had always been vague. Abigail left the comfort of the couch and scrimmaged around for the necessary ingredients.

Cabbage. Potatoes. Carrots. Chicken broth. A couple more spices for flavor. Pureed together to make a homey soup. Abigail hummed as she baked and then she began to talk. She talked to her characters as they gathered with hungry stomachs around the kitchen island. She asked them some simple questions, just to get the conversation going. By the time her soup was done, they all shared stories over toast and Cabbage Soup.

After dinner, when her characters faded away and the mouth watering aroma sifted through the open window, Abigail brought out her typewriter and recorded the tales she'd heard. She wrote down every detail she could remember, to be edited later. No over calculated thoughts went into her first draft. After all, these stories were just for her.

And anyone else who was interested.

 

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