I read the letter for the third time.
It is quite likely that by writing this letter I am only compounding the error of omission that I am undeniably guilty of, for it, the letter, might appear to be an act of futile rationalisation and an attempt at assuaging your professional sentiments with the ulterior motive of avoiding punishment altogether or benefiting from a possible benevolent attitude on your part, instead of sounding like a sincere apology that it, in reality, happens to be.
If I were to pause and reflect, even for one transient moment, how I would comport myself in your place, for that, you will agree, is the best and the most appropriate manner in which one, though hypothetically, pursues and apprehends truth in trying and unenviable circumstances, I would regard the behaviour of the concerned party, to wit, me, outrageous and abominable, admitting of no latitude whatsoever. I would, in your place, also consider the lack of communication or explanation at any point of time as utterly irresponsible and unworthy of a writer who, in addition to a possession of natural talent and practical ability, takes pride in having a sense of commitment.
After all, why on earth do you need to grant your conscience, gently tapping at the doors of dispassion, access to the freely functioning domain of your faculties, and consequently allow your unbiased intellect to scan through the entire set of possibilities, of which at least one might tend to show the episode, the error, as having occurred not completely due to negligence or incompetence on the part of the party, to wit, me?
I pray for your indulgence, to permit me, before consigning me properly to the purgatory, to purge myself of the venom and repugnance that I feel towards myself.
What did I do with the idea of a story of this quite strange woman who had all of her six clocks set 20 minutes ahead of the actual time?
What little capital did I make of this fertile seed that my sub-conscious sowed in my mind in the form of an extraordinary couple who led a most delightful life together while quarrelling all the time?
Why did I not pursue my train of thought about the two men in a train engaged in an intriguing plot to kill each other?
Why did I for all practical purposes not follow the ex-lovers who accidentally met in a store after many years and constructively eavesdrop on their conversation?
Why did I not enlarge upon the predicament of an employee on the verge of being dismissed from his job and work up to the wonderful ending where he wins a promotion?
And, what did I do with those little gems I could have polished, to create amazing tales? Nothing, nothing at all. And, to expect these persistent and pitiable instances of inertia to be seen and interpreted as extenuating circumstances is simply preposterous and even presumptuous.
Now, I feel a little relieved, but am still far from being at peace with myself. I consider my literary prospects fast fading into oblivion and nothingness.
I shall, at the risk of sounding manipulative and devious, emphasise that I shall certainly and strongly desist from entertaining any thoughts of a literary career.
That was remorse and guilt speaking, failure only a silent spectator. The letter duly posted, I was glad that, having failed to make my short-story submission, I took at least the effort of will to tender a formal and sincere apology.
Three days later, I received a reply from the self-same editor. Curiosity overtook conjecture, and I opened the letter. It said:
“…Though I have shared the experiences of many a writer in my capacity as an editor, I found yours truly poignant. I am sure it must have been a cathartic experience, quite necessary, in my opinion, for someone like you who would not like to escape from reality and would face truth courageously. Now, after having said that, I should add that you have a certain knack of expressing complex things with great clarity and force. Your pen translates abstractions constructed in the mind into intelligible, concrete specifics. I would like to avail of your services in the matter of drawing up contracts of a legal nature and, honestly speaking, I am quite positive that you will do as good a job, with some assistance from us naturally, as any leading legal consultant, and not send us a bomb of a bill for your trouble.”
I started entertaining very serious thoughts about my literary career, with renewed commitment and vigour.