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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)

TITLE: Thousand and One Lives of a Writer
By Rachel Phelps


I once heard a stage actor say that he chose his career because of the opportunity, in one lifetime, to live hundreds. Those words have never left me. The only difference between his life and mine is that, as a writer, I can live hundreds of lifetimes within a week.

Monday morning. The alarm goes off and I reach over to slap it, vaguely wishing I was married so I could tell my husband to do it… or perhaps a well-trained dog. Story idea: jealous dog when owner gets married. Hmm, too cliché, perhaps?

I drive to work, grumbling about the construction on my street adding ten minutes to my commute. Title: The 10-minute Difference: What you could be doing when stuck in traffic. First could-be: You could be reading this book. Hmm, too cheesy?

My coworkers give muffled greetings over their coffee mugs, clutching their ceramic treasures as if they contained the fountain of youth. Keep that description. It will fit in the novel about the reporting intern. What if she prefers tea? The seasoned reporters would tease her mercilessly… oh, perfect!

Janet walks by with her Starbucks, her long hair still slightly damp. Character profile: Woman married for first time in late 40s, step-grandma with no kids of own. Waist-length hair still dyed blonde. Careers: special ed teacher, tutor, belly dancer. Yes, belly dancer. Hmm, should probably change the name. Maybe spread out the details. She’s a little too eccentric to be believable on the page.

As I wait for the computer programs to load, I find myself thinking about life before computers. How much harder, and yet more fun that would be, somehow. Story idea: High-profile exec tries two weeks without technology – twist: loves the change from the first and decides to make whole company retro… Hmm, what’s the point? Scrap it.

Title: Scrap it – One writer’s trash is another’s new novel. All those story ideas I’ll never have time to write as a prompt book for teachers and writers. Or even better – a website. Like a Craigslist of story ideas.

I go throughout my morning, being moderately productive and trying to make sure none of my coworkers think I am mentally unstable because I keep trying out accents for my reporting intern. Irish is the most fun by far, but impractical – why would she be at a Smalltown, USA paper? What if she is actually from a neighboring small town but creates this persona to make herself feel important? Problem: parents. This is why most books have orphans for heroes.

Story idea: Preteen with large, boisterous family suddenly starts insisting she is from another country because she feels overwhelmed by siblings. Ugh, predictable, too easy to fix… unless she really is adopted and finds out because of her acting out… Add that one to the file.

By the time lunch comes around, I am completely immersed in the world of my preteen and currently deciding if she is French or Indian. As I enter the lunch room, still muttering about Paris versus the Bay of Bengal, I nearly run into the most recent hire, a dark-haired, tall specimen of the male species who conveniently is near my age. I’m not one to flirt, but I rather wish he would. Note: keep that description for the mission trip idea. The MC needs to be interested but unwilling to act. Why? Because everyone gets distracted by this on mission trips… Twist: she doesn’t act on attraction and… hmm, add to the “unfinished” pile.

My lunch is looking less and less appetizing the more I stare at it. Cooking for one is a waste of time to me, but few of my coworkers seem to share the attitude. Story idea: a look at corporate America in the break/lunch room.

I’m starting to feel exhausted by 2 o’clock, and it’s only Monday. Sometimes I think I am like a secret agent, hiding my many other lives from my coworkers. This life would make James Bond consider retirement.

Story idea…

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This article has been read 772 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Barbara Lynn Culler05/20/10
Fascinating! No wonder I am brain dead for ideas for topic if this is what a REAL writer experiences!!!
Elizabeth Cain05/21/10
I really liked how the story ended with the MC continuing to have story ideas. I can relate to having inspiration upon inspiration, upon inspiration during my daily routines. The only problem with nonstop inspiration is that (aside from forgetting them) I'd never have enough time to put them ALL into a story of their own.
Thanks for a good read :)
Maria Egilsson05/21/10
This is funny and I find, so true. It's hard to turn that "gift off" and everything becomes an illustration, a story, a gem of an idea. I enjoyed this. Thank you for writing it.
T. F. Chezum05/23/10
Thoroughly enjoyed this piece. I can relate to the ideas striking under all situations. Great job.
Linda Germain 05/23/10
I have pieces of ideas written on everything from receipts to deposit slips to napkins. When inspiration hits, that little notebook seems to be someplace I'm not! You've captured a writer's brain activity for sure. Very good take on the topic.

Maria Egilsson05/23/10
CreativeWords, found your hint. I enjoyed this. Excellent.
Chely Roach05/23/10
I love the lighthearted, discombobulated tone to this! Who can't relate the sometimes constant barrage of story lines and characters streaking through the brain? A fun, entertaining read...
Gregory Kane05/23/10
Excellent. It sounds to me, mind, that your MC needs to start living a life of her own! Why ever is she waiting around for that young man to ask her out?! Most enjoyable.
Lyn Churchyard05/24/10
Isn't it fun working full time and trying to be a writer. Still, work does give great ideas for stories :-)

Very writer's life, well done.
Connie Dixon05/24/10
Wow! Your brain never stops. (figured out my problem) I'll come back here when I need an idea. Great story...loved it.
Joanna Stricker05/24/10
Definitely can relate, it's why for years I wouldn't let myself write...because once the ideas start coming, it's hard to turn them off. Good job describing the wear and tear on a writer's brain.
Marita Thelander 05/24/10
Are you ADD? Are all writer's ADD? And I thought I was unique. hmph.

I vote for the bleach blonde, middle-aged, newlywed, step-grandma, belly dancer. Why? because she had starbucks in her hand. :P

Pssst...add a belly-button piercing and she would be perfect!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/25/10
I love how your mind works. No wonder your stories are so interesting. If the nice looking guy is not just a figment of your imagination, smile at him!
Beth LaBuff 05/26/10
I had to smile at your "vaguely wishing I was married so I could tell my husband to do it…" …and I loved seeing how everything that touched your MC's life inspired her. Your creative streak is amazing! :)
Ann Grover05/26/10
Perfect... and a delight to read, as always. But... how did you get inside my head?
AnneRene' Capp05/26/10
A genuinely fun read and liked the ideas for writing behind every encounter. What an enjoyable MC!
Susan Montaperto05/26/10
And I was just telling my teenage daughter the other day, that I would much rather read books, than spend my spare time playing Nintendo DS. I love your story with all the different storylines popping up all the time. Very creative and realistic. Thank you.
Kate Oliver Webb 05/26/10
Oh yes...this is us all right. Wonder we're all not locked up in little padded rooms. But if they locked us up without something to write with/on--well, that little room just wouldn't hold, would it?
You did such an excellent job; fun reading, and so realistic. You definitely have the "write stuff."
Kimberly Russell05/26/10
I really liked this but it feels like you've been spying on my life! As I was whining about my job today, my comment was "Well, at least I have plenty of material for fiction". Very fun read and nicely done.
Mona Purvis05/26/10
A day in the life of...just on point. Thank you for taking me along on this journey. I felt right at home.