19 December 2011

choose your own adventure {kind of}

In a fit of nostalgia, I pulled out an old writing journal over the weekend.

This one was from the creative writing class I took my senior year of college, and as I read through it, I through two things:
  • I wish I could go back to college. Life was so simple back then. {Name the musical I'm quoting!}
  • I was overflowing with stories to be told back when I was 22. Not that I've stopped telling stories now {I'm not sure how this blog would exist if I didn't have stories to tell...}, but I mean more the fiction kind of stories. In this class, we were challenged and encouraged to write way beyond our comfort levels, and so I had to do fiction, even if I didn't think I had stories and characters to share.

    That, by the way, is mostly why I wish I could go back to college: okay, partly it's because I want to be able to wander into a cafeteria and have a plethora of choices for food that I didn't have to make.

    But I also want to go back to college for that daily challenge thing. For that thing where you have to stretch your mind to do chemistry and analyze a modern poem and write a well-researched paper on who the best president of the post-World War II era has been—all in one week.

    And to be in a writing class where you're told: come up with 15 different ways to start a story. Now. Yes, for that challenge, I wish I could go back to college.

    {Here is where someone will insert that if I really wanted that challenge, I could take classes or do a self-study or something. But let's all just own up to this fact: there is nothing like having your only job be attending class and learning.}

Speaking of 15 different ways to start a story, I came across a list like that in my writing journal. And in a silly little effort to feel like I'm in college again, I'm going give myself an assignment.

{Actually, for this to really feel like college, it would help if a professor/teacher gave me the assignment. So if any of you fit the bill, please comment and assign me this. Ooh, and maybe create a syllabus for me.}

Assignment: Choose one of the following opening lines and finish the story.

Stipulation: I'm going to let all of you, dear readers, vote. Please take a glance at the list below and then let me know which story you'd most like me to finish. Voting closes Wednesday, December 21, at 5pm CST. {Doesn't that sound so official? Maybe I should have poll workers, too.}

Deadline: I'll do this over Christmas break. Okay, I also wish I could go back to college because I still got a Christmas break back then. Now, I get one federally-mandated day and any vacation days I want to save up for Christmas. But in any event, I'll work on this when I'm not at work.

Which of These Opening Lines Should Become a Full Story?

{aka, the time Kamiah pretended to still be in college}
  1. She woke up, looked out the window at the snow, and thought, 'Who said it could snow today?'
  2. She looked at the map, then at the street signs, then at the map again before she started crying in frustration because everything was written in a squiggle of Arabic.
  3. Holidays were a treacherous time for the family, and this one was no exception—it was, in fact, more of a shining example.
  4. When the sun got too hot for his dreams, he opened his eyes and realized that he didn't know why he was in a field of fall grass.
  5. The little girls splashed in the pool, not knowing what had almost happened yesterday.
  6. I stared at my computer screen and pretended to type so that I'd fool my boss, but in my mind, I was already in Venice on a gondola with a man who looked like Cary Grant and Tom Hank mixed together.
  7. She thought about how everyone had said, "Don't worry, it'll be okay," when they were obviously ignoring the fact that nothing is ever okay and that worrying is how she remembers that.
  8. Running away is too hard when your tires are flat on your pink Huffy bike and you're still six years away from even thinking about which pedal is for the gas.
  9. The Midwest, unlike some people think, is not the most boring part of America. And I could prove it.
  10. Her face always looked like nothing important was happening behind it, which is how I knew that she was a people watcher, too.
  11. The fight last night had been over the dishwasher and bowling, but both of them had a suspicion that there was more to it than Joy and strikes.
  12. It was only in small, orderly spaces that she felt comfortable enough to relax, which is why she often had to escape into phone booths. There were two problems with this one: it had graffiti everywhere, and someone was already in there.
  13. I had laughed at his jokes, even though I hadn't understood what he meant and had thought that maybe he was mocking me.
  14. I didn't like Halloween, but I didn't tell my friends that. They were just starting to think I was cool.
  15. I hated that I was always the one who had to leave and that I was never the one to cry.

Happy voting! All you need to do is leave a comment with the number of the opening line you'd like to see a full story for.

{Or, you know, you don't even have to think of this in terms of what you'd like to see: if you want to make me write a really, really hard story and you think one of those opening lines will be harder than the others, you can vote for that. That seems a little mean to me, but you can do whatever you want, just so long as you vote.}


  1. I vote for #7. Also, I remember taking this class with you. You are right, it was a challenge, and a good one. Good luck!

  2. #1, here's hoping no one agrees and you have to do all of them.

  3. I am voting for #3. :-) Maybe you'll just have to do a book of short stories...

    Also, now I have Avenue Q in my head!

  4. I give one vote to #8 and one to #12. No one said that were were only allowed one vote!



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