Friday Fictioneers – In Which Penn Advises Her Rider

Wasp nest

Copyright-Janet Webb

In Which Penn Advises Her Rider

The engine sputtered as Penn came to a stop beside a dry creek bed. I hopped off her worn seat and crouched down. There, among stones smoothed by flowing waters, was an empty wasp nest. I held it in my palm – so fragile, so delicate, like the unveiled human soul trembling in the wind of uncertainty.

My other hand wrapped around a honey-colored pebble, longing to draw from it a portion of its strength, that something it possessed that enabled it to weather cold winters and tumultuous waters.

“Keep ‘em,” a voice behind me purred. “You’ll need ‘em both.”


Lately, I have been thinking how very raw the act of writing and pursuing publication can be. One of the things that has amazed me most, that I had never thought of before I began writing, is how utterly vulnerable a writer makes herself. To write well, one must pour every ounce of emotion onto the page, swirl it around, turn it into something beautiful, and then wait… quite possibly for criticism and rejection. And when criticism and rejection come, so may tears. And I don’t mean, “Boo-hoo. Woe is me,” tears. I mean these things that spring from the depths and come silently, unbidden, unavoidable, and unspeakable.

But there is this other thing that has amazed me as much as, if not more than the soul-gaping vulnerability, and that is strength. One cannot be a wimp when it comes to writing, but must see beyond the tears to the truth, and then find the strength to make oneself and one’s writing that much better.

When I saw Janet’s beautiful photo this morning, I saw the dual natures of a writer. The vulnerability of the soul on paper, waiting either to be cradled or to be discarded, sits beside the strength of character that resolves not to shy away when the winters come or the waters flow.

Vulnerability and strength.

Keep ’em, friends. If you’re going to write, you’ll need ’em both.

Friday Fictioneers (n): A world-wide community of writers addicted to writing 100 word stories based on a photo prompt provided by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

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30 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – In Which Penn Advises Her Rider

  1. I don’t know what is more beautiful, your story or your writing about writing. Both equal, I guess.

    enabled it to weather cold winters and tumultuous waters… I love that line, as it makes me think of the rounded stones found at our Southbeach and think of them in a new way.

    I know you get a shortness of breath when you are satisfied and go to click ‘publish’… just as I do.

    • Thanks, Ted. Cold winters, tumultuous waters… the amazing thing to me is that we DO weather these things, even in writing, and almost always come out the better for it.

      Yes, hitting publish always comes with a sharp intake of breath, and I’m always so glad to know it was worth the risk! (And occasionally ashamed that I let myself get away with less than my best!) Thanks for commenting!

  2. a good story here. Agree with your views on writing. Stories we like may be rejected and those we don’t care for may be appreciated. However, most writers are sensitive and rejection can be very disheartening indeed..but as you said, the writers need to come out of it and get back to work..

  3. Your piece on writing adds depth to the story. I enjoyed both and agree with you: writing from the heart opens up your vulnerability to readers, and you need strength to both write like that and deal with criticism and rejection that can follow. In your story, the sputtering engine and dry creek bed speak of hard times — but we are uplifted by the smooth, endurant pebble. (Nice description that it is honey colored, by the way.)

  4. Lisa, both parts of what you wrote are beautiful. Writing is completely putting oneself out there and once that “publish” button is hit, there’s then the waiting for the first hit, the first like, the comments that let you know you touched something in someone else’s soul and experience (and worrying that you may not.) But it’s something many of us can’t do without, as we see every week!


  5. I liked both parts, but could only like once. You feel a common thing we all do. Writing is a lonely and draining experience if you do not receive positive feedback in the form of likes or comments.

  6. Lovely story, and I enjoyed your reflections too. The biggest regret I have is that I allowed others to drive me away from writing for so many years. Well done.

  7. “that something it possessed that enabled it to weather cold winters and tumultuous waters.” – this made me ponder. Very profound and true.

    Loved your little note at the end too – vulnerability and strength.. Also the courage to write what’s not truly your own belief for the sake of a story at the risk of it being made one with your own personality by friends and readers.. But we still do it or we won’t do justice to our craft. I hear you.. And you are an ace writer, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Cheers! 🙂

    • Thank you, Parul – and it is very nice to see you again!

      I know what you mean about taking the risk that what you write will be misinterpreted. So much of what we feel and believe does come through, that it can be scary to write something that is fiction and nothing more. For example, in my daily, theological thinking, I give very little thought to angels, but here I am writing all these stories about an angel and hoping to weave them into a novel someday, and a part of me is terrified that I’ll offend someone along the way. Oh well, I guess. 😉

      Again, good to see you once more, and thank you for the comment!

  8. I love this.. And it’s so true. Sometimes you really think you have something great…. And then you just have to believe in it. I loved your piece this time, though maybe a piece of a bigger story? It stands so well by itself.

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