Once upon a time, in a far away northern land, lived a boy. By day, this boys toiled in the cold and snow along with the others in his village, but it was the nights he lived for. For at night, the elders of his lodge always built a fire. Some built big roaring fires out of huge logs that lasted all the way through the night. Other elders stoked smaller blazes from smaller limbs. These had to be continually tended, but they offered a charm that the big fires did not. And some elders spent hours stacking their limbs and logs in just such a way that they they kept things glowing hot.
The boy spent much time near the fires. He liked the way some of them popped and cracked, while others quietly sizzled. He liked to stare at the mystical shapes that sometimes appeared. He liked how sometimes the flames danced recklessly while others they licked the wood rather sedately. And of course he loved the smells. Pinon, oak, Aspen. The woodsmoke varied depending on the tree, but each tickled his nose and pleased him with their aroma.
Despite the differences, all of the fires kept the boy warm and happy. Oh how he loved the fires.
Over time the boy grew older. He became one of the elders. Yet, he never built a fire for the others in his tribe. He wanted to. He even believed he could. And a time or two he went so far as to sneak off in the snowy woods to practice. He cut logs. He laid them out combining the techniques of his favorite fire builders. He longed to be a fire builder.
One day, the boy, who was now a man, was too sick to go outside and work in the cold. He stared at the woodpile by the door. He eyed the communal fire pit. He reached for some kindling. Then a log and before he knew it, he'd built a very intricate stack of wood in the pit. But as time neared for the tribe to cease their work and come inside he got scared.
What if his stack of wood collapsed too fast and put out the flame? What if he couldn't get it lit at all? What if it failed to warm anyone but himself?
No it was easier not to put himself out there. Let some one else build the fire. Then he could sit by the amber flames without fear. So as the sun set, he ripped apart his creation and restacked the wood he'd used by the door.
DON'T BE THAT BOY.
Yeah, I'm talking to you and you and you. My fellow writers.
Finish what you're writing. Send it off to that agent, or magazine, or editor. Don't watch your dreams smolder at the bottom of someone else's pit. Grab the matches, a can of gasoline and roast your own damn marshmallows.
And if you gotta ask, if this was directed at you, then YES it is.
And for the record this is a reminder to myself, as well as any of you.