Here, finally, is my response to the Day 18 prompt I found
somewhat entirely tiresome on the day of. Chalk it up to the ongoing tension (which I have named previously) between the fiction-ness of many of the Writing 101 prompts and the commitment to non-fiction I have made for my writing here.
Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.
The prompt in its entirety actually gives you a very specific scenario to narrate through the lens of your invented 12-year-old. And I can’t deny the intriguing comparisons that were allowed by reading a few different takes on the prompt by different bloggers. However, the prompt left me once again where I have been several times throughout my Writing 101 journey: I haven’t had the particular experience in the prompt’s scenario, so I was left with the task of distilling said prompt to a core essence, the code to unlock and make the prompt true and real for the kind of writing I do on JALC.
And that’s where I checked out of the process in annoyance last Wednesday night.
I mean, I did a little bit of stream-of-associating about the topic in the days since then. I’ve been watching DVR’ed episodes of CNN’s The Sixties TV series, and the episode about JFK’s assassination sparked a recollection that I was home sick from school the day John Hinckley, Jr. shot Ronald Reagan. “11 and a half is close enough to 12. Maybe that can be my ‘child’s eyes’ post.”
I thought about the original prompt’s scenario — a neighborhood domestic drama — and fruitlessly tried to come up with some sort of family or neighborhood event I had witnessed that could be fodder for a post. “I got nothing. Was I really that sheltered and self-absorbed during my tween years?”
So: a little bit of noodling here and there. But mostly, I just pushed the task to the back of my mind in a very annoyed and put-upon kind of way.
Until it hit me.
It is precisely my level of annoyance and self-created victimhood around these prompts that is the childish perspective asking for exploration in my post.
After all, the initial invitation to register for the Writing 101 challenge makes it eminently clear that participants have the freedom to re-interpret and remix the prompts however they see fit:
You can mix assignments up however you’d like. Respond to the prompt, and ignore the twist. Try the twist, but write on your own topic. Use both the prompt and the twist. The only mandate is that you write every weekday.
The Blogging U organizers are about as far from being authoritarian writing dictators as one could ask them to be. In fact, they created a structure with lots of freedom and flexibility, to accommodate the wide diversity of writers and perspectives on the continent of WordPress.
So then who is the child/teenager identity in me? The one that has found it necessary, not just to write my re-interpretations with a matter-of-fact notation “Inspired by such-and-such prompt,” but instead to call such obvious and painstaking attention to the ways I’m having to “jump through extra hoops” to “make the prompts work” for JALC.
In some interesting ways, the contemporary self-absorption of that is strikingly similar to the historical self-absorption suggested by my inability to find notable family or neighborhood events I witnessed at 12 to write about.
It’s amazing, this process of growing towards spiritual maturity. Just when I think I’ve got a trajectory going, there’s another subtle form of self-betrayal to watch out for.
Image credit: http://www.replicatedtypo.com/sticking-the-tongue-out-early-imitation-in-infants/6082.html