Not Take

SUBMISSION FOR MEMOIR CLASS:

Thinking about a road I haven’t taken is a difficult subject, because there are many paths I wish I could have taken, but didn’t. So where does one possibly begin with a subject like this? I could go on about all those missed opportunities, but who’s to know where I’d be if I had taken those paths?

Thinking about all those roads I didn’t take brings up more questions than trying to think of just one opportunity that I missed. They’re not even “what if” questions, but “would I” questions.

Would I be living in the same city I grew up in? Would I still have my same group of friends? Would I have a full-time, permanent job, or would I still be a student somewhere?

There are so many things I wish I could have done, but I think that fate has a lot to do with where I’ve ended up. “Everything happens for a reason,” they say. So, did I stay at home and get accepted into a local university for a reason? Is there a reason that I didn’t have a job for two years? Were some unseen forces working to prevent me from traveling because I could have gotten hurt while I was overseas?

Again, there are so many questions when pondering the opportunities that I didn’t take, but all of them lead back to the sole question that’s nagged at me for the ten minutes I’ve been writing this: Where would I be right now if I’d taken one of those other roads?

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Repeat

SUBMISSION FOR MEMOIR CLASS:

One thing I remember having to start over again was my novel. I started writing it in high school, and it took me eight years to write. The very first draft that I ever wrote, which was about ¼ of the novel was lost when my computer died, and I had to start over again from scratch. Of course, I was livid, hurt, disappointed, and frustrated that I’d lost so much of my novel because my computer decided to crap out on me one day.

As I started re-working on the novel, I remembered some details, dialogue, and events that happened in the part of the novel that was lost. Of course, I didn’t remember all of it, certainly not word-for-word, but I remembered some, so that’s saying something, I guess. Since I couldn’t remember all of what was lost, I was really angry and frustrated that I’d lost everything. Not only was it time-consuming to write everything all over again, it was a pain trying to remember it all; and when I couldn’t, I had to write something new.

The second time around, however, I learned my lesson (as it applies now to anything I work on, whether it’s assignments, essays, or creative writing): I save everything on a flash drive. My mother thinks I’m crazy that I have a keychain with five flash drives on it, but I don’t want to take the risk of losing something important again. Sure, one’s for music, another’s for pictures, and three are for writing, but having them gives me peace of mind, so that I don’t have to stress, thinking I’ll lose everything if my laptop dies.

Although it was a traumatic experience, losing my novel, I learned my lesson: always save your work on a back-up drive, whether it’s another hard drive, a flash drive, or online somewhere.

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Sickness

SUBMISSION FOR MEMOIR CLASS:

Cancer is a word that scares a lot of people, and I’m one of those people that freaks out when I hear that word. Even though very few people in my family have had or died from cancer, there are friends or family members of friends that I’ve heard have had or died from cancer. Most recently, a neighbour died of lung cancer, and a year ago, my friend’s mother died from breast cancer.

Just the thought of having cancer scares me. Having cancerous cells growing in your body, and making you so sick that sometimes you can’t even get out of bed, disturbs me to no end. Knowing that so many people suffer through this disease, especially people I know, rattles me even more.

For some people, cancer’s something they don’t think about because no one they know has been affected by it, but for me, it hit close to home when the people around me I know have suffered through it, or had someone close to them die from it.

There certainly can’t be anything more frightening than hearing “You have cancer” when you visit your doctor. It’s like a death-sentence, even though people have overcome cancer.

Diseases like this are scary, especially when someone you know has it. It makes you wonder – could you be next?

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Taking Stock #1

SUBMISSION FOR MEMOIR CLASS:

Working on these weekly prompts has been a novel experience for me, however, I feel that it’s given me some freedom with my writing that I wasn’t expecting to have.

1. Has anything about your writing surprised you?

Yes, it most definitely has. I was really unsure about writing about myself, even though this is a “life writing” class. I prefer to write fiction, and certainly not about myself, but working on these prompts has forced me into thinking about personal writing, reflecting and thinking critically of past events and writing them down (especially in a coherent manner).

2. What do you think is your most effective piece? Your least effective piece? Why?

I think my strongest piece is the piece I did for workshop—“Window.” I spent a lot of time thinking about writing this piece before I actually wrote it, so I think because I gave it a lot of thought beforehand, it allowed me to really focus and make this piece the best it could be. I think my least effective piece is “What I Will Miss” because I just wrote it as quickly as I could to get it over with. Had I gave this piece as much thought as I did with some of the others, it might have been a stronger piece and written less hastily.

3. What challenges have you faced in completing the pieces?

I think the most challenging thing about writing these prompts is the issue of time. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to feel pressured by time, and likes to take my time with things, especially when it comes to writing. Flash fiction and writing on the spur-of-the-moment can be fun, but for me, I like to think about what I’m going to write well before I write it. Of course, when it comes to fiction and writing a story, sometimes and idea will just come to me and I just have to write it all down before I forget it. But overall, I like taking my time and thinking about my writing; and the pressure of time just rattles me and I don’t think I can produce a strong piece of work when I have the clock working against me.

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Last Letter

SUBMISSION FOR MEMOIR CLASS:

Dear Uncle Rob,

I miss you so much. There are so many things that remind me of you, and it still hurts me so much to know you left us far too soon.

Do you remember that time I broke the light above your pool table? I thought you’d be so upset with me, but you weren’t. You just wanted to be sure that I was okay; and while I was, that concern for me made me feel so much better than being upset about breaking that light.

I’ll never forget that noise you could make with your lips that sounded like the Jetson’s spaceship. I never knew anyone who could make that sound, and anytime I hear the Jetson’s spaceship, whether it’s on TV or a commercial, I always think of you.

Every day, I wish there was something I could do to change that night you died. As I’m sure everyone else in our family does, I want you back here with me. You were the most selfless, caring, wonderful person I’ve ever met, and I miss you so much.

Now I can’t even read what I’m writing because I’m tearing up. Without you, the world isn’t the same; and I’m sure if you were still here, things would be different, and in a more positive way.

You will always be #22 to me, and I still love your convertible.

I miss you; and as much as I want you here, I know you’re in a better place. I hope that we can meet again someday.

I love you.

Your niece and goddaughter,

-Lina

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Two

SUBMISSION FOR MEMOIR CLASS:

There’s a place that always tries to pull me away from reality, and the fantasy worlds that have been created from writing short stories and novels. Everyone has some kind of fantasy world, and whenever life gets to be too much, some people use that world to escape reality. I know I do. There’s just something about fictional characters and the fictional world that they live in that helps me escape from everything. Writing is my therapy, and the worlds I’ve created are the places that I can turn to when I need a break from the real world.

Some may think it’s crazy to be wrapped up in a fantasy, and on some level, it is, especially when someone gets too wrapped up in a fantasy. That’s when real life and fantasy become blurred and you can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not anymore. That’s where you run into problems. But to just slip into that fantasy (which is especially helpful when thinking of ideas to write for a given story) is the perfect way to escape from a hellish day.

This reminds me of the book Inkheart where the characters from different stories end up in the real world. Sometimes, I wish my characters could become real like that; either that, or I could just disappear into my stories like Harry Potter does in Tom Riddle’s diary.

Writing to escape helps keep me sane; and even in the midst of hours upon hours of homework that needs to be done, I take the time to either write or read a few scenes from my stories that I enjoy. All of this talk about writing being my therapy reminds me of the lyrics in Faithless’s song “God is a DJ”—“This is my church, this is where I heal my hurt.”

Amen to that.

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Window (Workshop Piece)

SUBMISSION FOR MEMOIR CLASS:

Outside the window there’s a whole other world. A pane of glass and a thin screen separates my world from the world of nature.

The sky is a startling bright blue, with large, puffy white clouds creeping through the sky on a light b-r-e-e-z-e. A robin quickly scuttles-across-the-grass before stopping and lifting its head, looking for signs of danger! A lone maple leaf, bearing a rustic, red-orange hue, separates from a tree branch and

slowly

drifts

down,

twirling

twice

before it gently lands on the grass.

Birds are chirping in the maple tree by the road, a cheerful mid-day melody. There’s the rumble of traffic in the distance, signalling life other than nature, and the quiet serenity is disrupted as someone starts a car.

A dog begins to BARK across the street, the hum of an airplane starts quietly before growing LOUDER as it passes over the house, and f   a   d   e   s before disappearing completely.

Through the open window wafts the strong, sharp scent of a fireplace—the odour of burning wood filling my nose and clogging my throat. The scent is so strong, you can almost taste the ashes in your mouth.

The sunlight shines on my desk, causing a sharp, BLINDING glare off the screen of my laptop as I shift in my chair. My attention is now on my laptop as I turn away from the scenery outside my window.

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