The Gift of Friendship and Faith

Today I am pleased to present this beautiful note written by author Amy Gustine, friend of American Frame who shares her story of how a gift of a framed newspaper article inspired her to persist in her dream of being a published author. Here, she beautifully describes her struggle with her own creative process as she worked to ‘make it’ in her field. As artists, I am sure many of you will relate to her journey and the unexpected impact of small wins and thoughtful gifts. This piece is a wonderful testament to the art of creative gift giving; so appropriate as we approach the holiday season. With that, here’s Amy!

framed newspaper article

Frames elevate. Above the ever-moving world, events slipping below the surface, frames lift things up and say look here. Sometimes, they say imagine. Sometimes they say remember. The frame above my desk says you can do it, keep going.

As a fiction writer I’ve experienced a fair amount of rejection and self-doubt. There are no foldout directions on how to build a story or a novel. Many days, between stories being accepted, or when I finished one story and didn’t know how to start the next one, I wondered if I was fooling myself. Too little talent, too little drive, too little luck. Maybe all three.

Then, in 2008, one of my stories was awarded a Pushcart Special Mention —a big deal in the short story world--and a good friend of mine cut out the article our local paper ran and framed it for me. The day she gave me this gift, I was mostly touched that she cared so much about me to take the time to celebrate my accomplishment. I hung the framed article above my desk and for several weeks when I looked at it I felt the pleasure of friendship in my life.

Time passed and I had to admit that one award wasn’t going to turn the tide. There was still work to do and lots of rejection to withstand. But the framed article  hung there, unmoved by my daily struggles. It asserted itself. Not the actual wood pieces. Though beautiful, I admit rarely studying its delicate details, its rich stain. What I looked at was the heading in the article. There was a lot of time to read those four words “Writer receives Pushcart recognition.” Every day, for four or five hours, I write at my desk. Most recently I’ve been working on a novel about two doctors which required a lot of research. For five years I compiled notes, wrote, compiled more notes, plotted, re-plotted, wrote some more. Whenever I became confused and feared I was wasting my time, I looked at the article and read those four words again. Sometimes they inspired me to keep on with the novel, sometimes to take a break and write another story. I thought: if I can do it once, I can do it again.

Six years later my phone rang. It was an editor from Sarabande Books who wanted to publish my collection of stories, among them the Pushcart piece. This editor loved my work. She called it “stellar.” A week later I had an official acceptance letter and a publication contract in my hands. Within a few days I’d ordered a frame, from American Frame of course, so I could hang that letter next to the Pushcart article.

You might think it’s impossible to frame faith and confidence, to hang it on the wall, but my friend did just that. That frame is part of the road I walked to write the rest of my story collection and finish my novel. I can’t think of a better gift.

About Amy

Amy Gustine, author


Amy Gustine’s debut short story collection You Should Pity Us Instead will be published by Sarabande Books in February, 2016. Her fiction has appeared in many magazines. New work is forthcoming soon in The Kenyon Review, The Alaska Quarterly Review, The Laurel Review and The Wisconsin Review. Her story “Goldene Medene” received a Pushcart Special Mention. Amy lives in Ohio with her husband and two children. She recently finished a novel about medical mistakes and bariatric surgery.

AubreyK | 11/17/2014 9:50:10 AM | 1 comments
Comments
ValerieK
Congrats, Amy! Keep up the good work!
11/24/2014 9:43:30 AM

About this blog

Laura Jajko

Join in and let’s bond over our love of art and framing. Here, I’ll be sharing design inspiration and decisions, twitter chat summaries, and happenings with the company, among other things. With more than 40 years of practical experience, I bring a unique perspective in a straight-forward style that I hope will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialog in our online community.


For more tutorials and articles, take a look at our other blogs -  Ask Mike or At Your Service


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