Once upon a time there was a girl with cripplingly low self-esteem. It’s not important where she got it from; all that matters is that she had it, and she held it tight to her heart for many years. She might have been good at some things or maybe she was horrible at everything–it didn’t make a difference because she wouldn’t give you a chance to decide.
There was one thing the girl thought she might possibly be slightly good at, but you wouldn’t hear her say it for fear that speaking it would cause it to become untrue. More specifically, she thought if anyone else had an opportunity to judge for himself whether or not she had a talent, chances were good that someone would say she didn’t, and chances were even better that she would believe him. Best to keep the possibility locked up along with the talent so nothing could reach it.
The weird thing was even though the girl attempted to forget about this thing she might possibly be slightly good at, other people somehow found out about it. Over the years, some people who were close to her and others who didn’t even know her name insisted her suspicion that she was a good writer may actually be based on something real. Yes, hard to believe for someone with self-esteem so low it regularly hung out with sewer rats, but it was true.
Eventually, the girl decided the only thing to do was loosen her grip on what was dragging her down and tighten her grip on reality–reality being, of course, the fact that nobody cared whether she tried and failed except her, and frankly, the chances of anyone even noticing were about the same as the probability that one of those sewer rats would one day hop out of the sewer and start doing the moonwalk: possible, but highly unlikely.
So the girl finally did what she should have been doing for a decade and entered a short story contest. She didn’t expect to win, but she knew that even entering the contest was a big step. The day she submitted her story, she found her self-esteem slightly less crippling, and she was fairly certain she even saw it start to rise out of the sewer a bit.
Absolutely, it was going to miss the rats, but hanging out with those guys was starting to get a little tedious anyway. How many times can you really discuss the indecency of there being no If You Give a Rat a Cookie or Of Rats and Men?