“The ragged man lifted his fiddle, cradled it beneath his chin, and laid the bow on the strings. A deep note rang out—an agonized groan. It struck Maria to the heart and left her gasping for breath. On and on it wailed, that single note encapsulating pure pain, suffering, and loss.” (Read more …) Some of you may recall this short story. I had an earlier version posted on my blog last year, though I took it down for editing a little while back and ended up submitting the new and improved story to a contest. In fact, if you would like to read the rest of the story, you can head over to the contest page and read it there. And if the story strikes home—and you’re feeling especially kindly—give the story a thumbs up or share it with your friends, family … even your enemies. I would certainly appreciate it. You see, The Fiddler’s Tune has a sort of death grip on my heart. I jotted down snippets of the story for about a year before I dared to write it. And it’s only a thousand words long! It may not be my usual type of action and adventure story, full of perilous battles where brave deeds await, but it’s a story with heart—my heart—written into it. It’s about what happens when you allow others to direct your life instead of Christ; about who we listen to and what we allow to influence our actions. But more than that, it’s the story of a girl. A girl who pursues her gifts and passions purely for the love of doing … until the accolades she receives begin to go to her head and she strives instead to please those around her. And slowly, the joy and beauty fade from her work. As a writer, I find I face this same problem when the temptation comes to write to please others, to write for the market, to write what I expect others will want to hear, instead of writing for the joy of writing, or using my gift well in order to bring honor to the One who gave it. In a way, The Fiddler’s Tune is my story. But it’s not mine alone. It belongs to everyone who has ever felt the crushing pressure of the world to become something different, to conform to a different image or pattern, or to use their gifts to achieve honor and fame until they feel more like curses than blessings. This story can be your story too as you, like Maria, dance to the fiddler’s tune. “Eyes closed, arms lifted, hair and scarf flying in joyous abandon, Maria danced upon the village green like a morning wind breathed upon the world.” Follow this link to read the short story … and if you like, cast your vote in favor of The Fiddler’s Tune: A Short Story.