“It’s fluff!” Charles yelled at Dorothy. “Why can’t you bring me something with meaning? Don’t you have any meaning in your life?”
Dorothy was crushed. She had worked all night long. The caffeine from several pots of coffee felt as though it had all left her body. She wanted to collapse on the floor and weep, but she could not allow Charles to get to her. “What are you looking for? ”
Charles dropped her manuscript on his desk. “I’m looking for you! You need to be in your books. You’ve given me just another romance story. I want something more. I want a story that will make men and women read.”
Dorothy could hide her disappointment, but not her frustration. “But women are my demographic. More women read than men. We both know that.”
“Exactly! I want to see our sales expand, your sales expand. Do you know why men don’t read books?”
“Because men don’t like to read.” Dorothy smiled at her own timely remark.
“Wrong! Men don’t read because they have nothing to read. Why not take your little romance and jazz it up. Add some action, make Susie’s lover less of a lover and more of a hunter. Better yet, drop him in the middle east. That location is big in stories right now.”
“But you said you wanted me in the book, and that isn’t me.” Dorothy was growing more frustrated.
“Look, Dorothy, I can’t write your book for you. You have to figure some of this out for yourself. I know your life has been hard. You lost your husband five years ago. You became a widow at age thirty. Nobody imagines going through that. Your stories, they don’t have any of what you have inside you.”
Dorothy could not stop all her tears, and a couple escaped from her eyes. “You don’t understand, I write to escape that.”
Charles handed Dorothy a tissue. “I know, but you have so much more to give. There are lonely women and men out in the world. Write your male characters based on your late husband. Write about a woman’s loneliness the way you feel it right now. If you give me that, both men and women could both relate to your characters.”
“You are asking me to do something excruciating.”
Charles lowered his voice to almost a whisper. “Let me ask you a question. Why do you write?”
Dorothy shrugged. “To make a living, I guess.”
“Of course, we all need to eat. Why do you write? You can make a living doing a lot of different things.”
“I don’t know. It makes me feel good. I can escape my life for awhile.”
“Exactly. Do me a favor. Go home and rewrite your first chapter. Put yourself in this story. Let your protagonist feel what you really feel. Let them deal with your loneliness and hurt, and then call me.”
Dorothy left. Although she felt rejected and frustrated she would give it a try. She had a contract after all and had to deliver a book that was marketable.
The next morning Charles’ phone range. Dorothy sounded almost happy. “You were right! I don’t know how, but I feel better. I cried over my keyboard all morning, and for the first time I feel like some of this weight I have been carrying is lifted off of me.”
Charles smiled. “Good Dorothy. A story that can change you can change others. You have a beautiful heart and beautiful stories. I can’t wait to read what you are doing.”
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