A Self-Employed Writer
In the heart of Altador, at the crack of dawn, in the upper story in a two-room building on a bustling street, Elincia Marmon took out her typewriter.
As she prepared the typewriter for typing, the kettle on the stove began to whistle and she hurried over to the tiny kitchen, turning off the burner and removing the kettle with ink-stained paws. A quick scramble through the cluttered cupboards produced a packet of tea, a chipped mug, and packet of sugar. Haphazardly combining all three and the boiled water in no particular order, she left the tea to steep and hurried back to her "office", which was really little more than a slightly cramped closet, the shelves sagging with office supplies and a small desk bearing her typewriter.
Today the cloud Ogrin began her writing with a letter to her parents.
"Dear Mum and Dad," she began. "Life in Altador is the same as it has been. I write from dawn to about 11:00, and then of course I have to hurry over to my job at Exquisite Ambrosia. I haven't gotten a job writing ye--"
The keys stopped clacking. Elincia bit her lip. When she'd moved to Altador, working as a self-employed writer had been the dream. She'd had it all planned out. She would work at Exquisite Ambrosia until she got a job writing, which she was certain wouldn't take long. She'd work her way up the ranks, win the Altadorians over, and became a famous writer, preferably for a big, famous newspaper or magazine. So far, none of this had happened.
Altador was the place to go if you wanted to make it as a writer, much as a musician would go to Tyrannia or an artist would go to Roo Island (which was also a popular place to go as a writer). They had numerous famous publications, from the prestigious Altadorian Tribune to the TBC (which employed an elite team of writers to write series stories for them) to the Word on the Street, which published updates on every celebrity in Neopia and had contacts, so it was rumored, in every land. In addition to these (and many more) magazines and newspapers, there were also three big publishing houses and, of course, the bustling Sports Writers trade for Yooyuball. But the dream, for Elincia, wasn't quite happening.
She'd been living in Altador all fall. When she'd first arrived, it had been early September--a golden month, with the leaves beginning to turn and the weather simmering down from summer heat, but not yet anywhere near cold. Her flat was above a bakery, and though it was tiny, cramped, and altogether shabby, it had seemed quaint and charming when she first moved in, with all the wood floors and furniture and the view of the bustling street. She'd begun applying for jobs at newspapers and magazines, and in the meantime, while she waited for replies, she got her job at Exquisite Ambrosia and started absently typing up the beginnings of a novel. At first life seemed as rosy as it had in her romanticized dreams, those first couple of weeks. And then she'd begun to get rejection letters.
She sighed heavily and got up to fetch her tea. It had over-steeped, and she sighed again as she splashed in some cream, and a little more sugar to try and chase out the bitterness caused by leaving the leaves in too long. When she carried it back to her office, she snatched the sheet of paper from the typewriter, crumpled it up, and threw it in the wastebasket. As she did so, she caught a glimpse of her most recent rejection letter, from a petpet care magazine called the APPM (Altadorian Petpets Monthly). She gritted her teeth--she could remember every word of it.
"Dear Miss Marmon:
"We regret to inform you that we do not think you are the right fit for the APPM. Though we enjoyed your writing it did not fit with the usual writing style and standard of our writers. Thank you for submitting your work, and we wish you the best of luck.
"--Ilmanya Capon, Department of Neopet Resources, APPM"
She closed her eyes briefly, then popped in another piece of paper. What with the lack of employment, she'd managed to get a good start on her novel, and she was rewriting her first draft. She laid out the chapter she was working on now and began to type.
About a quarter of an hour later, she heard an annoyed tapping at the tiny window in her office. She looked up to see a pert little Faerie Alabriss, looking prissily irritated, bearing a sheet of glittery paper on her back. When Elincia opened the window, she flew in, stood still only long enough for Elincia to snatch the paper, and zoomed back out. Elincia unfurled the sheet, coughing as a great cloud of perfume came up from it.
"Unfortunately, you're not a good fit for the Word on the Street. Utilize your talents elsewhere, my dear, as we would tell anybody writing into the advice column. We were glad to hear from you, and hope you continue to patronize WotS. The perfume, by the by, is Wilifred Lanzene's favorite kind. Do enjoy the free sample.
"Your sincerely, Heatheretta Eddington DeLure, Head of Communication"
Elincia slumped back down onto her chair. There had only been two publications where her application was still pending; this had been one of them. Now there was only one left, the Altadorian Tribune itself, where they were so large and received so many applications that pets were warned that their applications were likely to get lost before anybody had even glanced at them. Elincia was positive that even if it was eventually read, it would be rejected. If she was Altadorian Tribune level, she would have gotten into many other publications before this. She crumpled up the glitter-embedded invitation, threw it somewhere in the corner of the room, and stamped her back paw. Self-employed writer--how had it ever seemed easy? She got up abruptly, knocking an ink bottle over her tiny desk. She hurried to the kitchen, snatched a towel, and mopped up the mess, grumbling, covering her paws with fresh ink.
A trip to the bakery downstairs, she though glumly, was in order. She went down the stairs to see that her friend Sashi, a green Xweetok, was working.
"Hello, Elincia," said Sashi cheerfully, handing a customer a cupcake. She paused, cocking her head to the side to observe Elinicia, her paws automatically completing the transaction. "You don't look very happy," she stated after a moment.
"I'm not," said Elincia rather blankly. "Work troubles."
"Wanna talk about them?"
"Well... first, can I have a cheese danish and a cup of coffee?"
A few minutes later, the Xweetok and the Ogrin were sitting together over the tiny meal.
"I thought it'd be easy to get a job," said Elincia glumly, "but it doesn't seem so easy anymore. Sashi--Sashi, every publication that I could possibly write for has turned me down!"
Sashi twitched her nose.
"What about your book?" she said. "That chapter you let me read was really something."
"Thanks, Sashi. But I don't think I'll be publishing any books soon, not with my train of rejection letters."
Again, Sashi thought for a moment. She was a great believer in thinking before speaking, and she always chose her words carefully.
"Elincia," she said, "just because you're not a good fit for newspapers doesn't mean you can't write an amazing book and get it published. In fact, it may mean just the opposite. Please try, okay?"
"Well... okay." Elincia finished the pastry. "I'll try. But don't expect much."
After all, what else did she have to fall back on?
The air was frigid and the noise of the Altadorian streets crashed in Elincia's ears. She shivered and tightened her coat. keeping her bulky brown paper package firmly tucked under one arm. The snow began to fall, fast and thick, and she hunched over, keeping her eyes on the slippery sidewalk and hoping she wouldn't fall on the ice. People around her accidentally jostled her as they went on their way. She was on her way from Exquisite Ambrosia, where she'd just finished her work day, to Sipiell Publishing House. It was a long trudge.
A week ago, she'd typed the last word of the final revision of her novel. She'd spent the week in a frenzy, retyping the whole novel to rid it of all the typos she could, and make it picture-perfect. She was trying, as she'd promised Sashi, but she was sure it wouldn't amount to much. Maybe, she thought glumly, she would just stick to the restaurant business.
When she finally arrived at the building, the doors welcomed her in with a gust of warm air. Inside, she could hear a hum that suggested an office as busy as a hive of buzzers, but she was in the foyer--a high-ceilinged place decorated in a modern, edgy white-and-black theme, presided over by a wide desk and two secretaries. Elincia hesitated, and then approached the one on the right, a blue Acara with thin rectangular glasses perched on her nose.
"Hello," said Elincia uncertainly. "I--I'm here to turn in a manuscript for your consideration."
"Does it have the required letter along with it?" asked the secretary automatically, barely glancing up from her work.
"Yes." Elincia laid the bulky brown parcel that was this copy of her novel down on the desk.
"Leave it there, and I'll take it to the publishers. Thank you," added the Acara dismissively.
Elincia felt she'd somehow disappointed, but she wasn't sure why. She headed out again and back to her flat.
The next morning, as she was eating her usual fried egg, wrapped in a thick robe because of the cold weather, she heard a knock at her door.
"Come in," she said, walking to the tiny entryway.
It was a blue Gelert.
"You have a letter," he said, "from the Altadorian Tribune."
He handed her a thinnish envelope. She took it and handed him a few neopoints.
"Thank you," she said as he went on his way.
So, she thought, the Altadorian Tribune got my submission after all, and they're finally sending me a rejection letter. She slit open the envelope and opened the sheet of crisp white paper.
"Dear Miss Marmon,
"We think you show potential as a writer. You have an interesting style of writing that is not often what newspapers request, but we would be interested in hearing more from you. We would you to attend an interview on February the 3rd, in two weeks time, and for you to turn in three more sample articles at this time. We look forward to hearing from you.
"--The Altadorian Tribune Personnel Staff"
Elincia's heart raced. She was being considered! She "showed potential"! Well, maybe it wasn't a definite yes--at all--but it was pretty great, anyways, being considered by this prestigious newspaper. Could things actually start looking up? A slow smile broke across her face. She crossed her flat and began boiling a cup of tea.
Two months later, Elincia took out her typewriter, paws as inky as ever, and began to type.
"Dear Mum and Dad,
"My editor, Liza, says that my novel should be on the shelves in late spring. She's so nice! She's really helped me through the publishing process--I don't know what I'd have done without her.
"I found a lovely flat, twice the size of the one I have now, over by the Altadorian Tribune, and I'll be moving next weekend. I'll be only a five minute walk from work! And I'll never have to call a chariot or a Uni cab like I do every morning now. And, even better, I'm going shopping at a wonderful furniture store once I move in for a desk. I hope to get a really splendid one! After all, I'll be doing lots of work on it. Liza says she wants me to write much more for her! I've already started on my new novel.
"My job is going along splendidly, I think. As it turns out, my style of writing is very quirky, and lots of the other magazines didn't like it, or it wasn't a good fit for them. But the Altadorian Tribune took the risk with me, and I really think people like my writing! Now that my work is appearing regularly in the newspaper, that elite series magazine that doesn't allow open submissions is hounding me, trying to get me to write for them. I told them I'd consider it, but they couldn't expect any word any time soon. I am considering it, but things are looking good where I am now.
"I'm starting my very own weekly section next week, instead of just writing what they need, and they say that hopefully, if things go smoothly, I'll eventually obtain a small daily bit (nothing too big at first) to go along with the section in the big Sunday edition. I can hardly realize it all--I'm climbing the ranks! Maybe someday I'll have a whole daily section, like the important journalists do. Wish me luck!
"Yours sincerely, Elincia K. Marmon, Journalist for the Altadorian Tribune
"P.S. Don't you just love my new signature?"