Depressing stories. A school literary magazine. Censorship. That's all there is to say.
Lately I had been doing this too much, and it was spreading like a disease, infecting my fingers as they typed. What had started out as a great new fic with some funny parts and a happy ending all planned out had turned quickly into the Doomsday Fic Party. My heroine's mother had already died, she had broken up with her boyfriend, been deserted by her best friend as well as other assorted tragedies, and now this. I had almost written that her new crush had forgotten about her in an empty building, but had thankfully stopped myself just in time. It was happening more and more.
Last week I had finished my ongoing fic of a month, and it had turned depressing in the end as well as the main character struggled to survive, apparently deserted by everyone around her. But I couldn't stop myself, which was what scared me. Writing depressing fics was so much more fun. You never really knew, even as the author, what was going to happen: was everyone going to die, have a bittersweet ending, have a romance but would it all fall in pieces at the end? Whereas with happy ending fics they had to have a happy ending, which was slightly boring, in my opinion. After all, there was only so much you could do with a story that went along the lines of: "As they kissed, they rode happily into the sunset in the back of a white limo which would deliver them to their honeymoon in Paris." Seriously. Real life didn't happen like that.
The next morning as I walked to school I reviewed the piece of paper I held in my hand: my favorite fic which I had just finished and that was really good despite the sad ending and edgy nature. I was going to try to submit it to the school literary and art magazine, which was known to be exclusive and held in power of the most horrible teacher at our school. Mr. Edwards. The man was my worst nightmare. He didn't accept anything to his magazine that he didn't think was "appropriate," and was the biggest censor in our school, which was ironic because the school had advertised the magazine as "a place to display your most innovative and cutting-edge works." (For him, the only things that were appropriate were probably dancing bunnies and unicorns on top of Rock Candy Mountain.)
I walked towards Mr. Edwards' classroom, in the very back of the school, which only sufficed as more time for the larvae in my stomach to hatch and break free as gigantic butterflies with colorful wings to match. The story was good. Very good. The only problem was the depressing content, the disease I couldn't work out of my system. I gripped the story like a lifeline on a sinking ship and stepped into the room.
Mr. Edwards was grading papers at his desk. I shuffled my feet nervously as he looked up from some ninth grader's latest exam with an imperious look. He motioned with a crooked finger and I walked forward, palms sweating. He held out his hand, palm up, as if waiting for a gift. I slowly surrendered my precious story to the teacher who I so despised.
He read it quietly, without a word. I studied his face to see if there was any glimmer of hope for my story, looking for a flicker of an eyelid, a furrow in his brow, a ghost of a smile. There was nothing there. I jiggled my foot, my signature nervous habit, and waited for him to look up. At last he did.
"This is very good work," he said. I glowed a little. "But..."
No! Not the "but". I knew it would come but I was trying to make myself believe it wouldn't.
"But it's a bit too edgy, not really the kind of content we want in the magazine." There he went using the royal "we". Everyone knew that he was the only judge to what went in the magazine and what was resoundingly rejected.
But I was prepared for this. I reached into my azure blue knapsack and pulled out a worn literary magazine flyer, pointing out the use of "innovative and cutting-edge." "What is wrong with this story?" I asked. "You even said that it was good work."
He sighed. "It's just the depressing content. The girl ends up struggling to cling to life! I don't think that's really appropriate." He stood up and I realized he was trying to push me towards the door. "If you changed the content, it might work. Why don't you give it a go?"
Anger and rage boiled up inside me. He couldn't tell me how to think! I was not going to change my story to rainbows and butterflies. If that's what he wanted, my story did not deserve to be in his literary magazine.
I said with as much dignity as I could muster, "No thanks, Mr. Edwards," then marched out of the room, head held high. Unfortunately, my dramatic exit didn't really work, because I forgot the story that was still lying on his desk. With a muttered "Crap," I walked back in, grabbed the paper and made a beeline for the hallway. Mr. Edwards didn't even notice. He had started on a pile of 10th grade essays.
All the rest of the day I alternated between moping and being angry. After school I walked to the track fields and drank Coke while thinking. Suddenly, an amazing idea came to mind. As I ran back to school, all I could think was, "Screw you, Mr. Edwards."
For the next two weeks I watched as more stories were accepted and rejected. One day I saw a girl I knew, but not that well, Lauren, walking out of Mr. Edwards' room with the usual I've-just-been-rejected look on her face. I fell into step with her and we had been walking for a while when I paused.
"How would you like to enter your story in a magazine of our own?"
To be continued! (Maybe)
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