Wednesday, April 06, 2011

IndieInk Writing Challenge: Unsure

This week's IndieInk Writing Challenge comes to me from Trish, who asks what I have done that I didn't think I could do. This is not an easy question for me- I have done very little, and I think I am capable of even less. I never learned to ski, or play the piano, or play the piano on skis. But challenges are to make us stretch, so stretch I will. (My challenge will be answered by Alyssa.)

I don't know how to approach this through the front door. I'm not a inspirational person by nature. I don't dislike inspirational stories- you will find no bigger fan than me of Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture" (the book, the audiobook, or the lecture itself). But I have trouble translating inspirational stories into the blood and sinew and bounced check fees and library overdue fines of my own life. I read it and feel inspired, but when I come away from it, the lessons don't seem real.

I'd like to tell you about a big goal I set, worked hard for, and achieved. That seems to be the point here- dreaming a big dream, then achieving it. I guess having a child suffices- that certainly wasn't hard to achieve for us, but the nature of it as an achievement is questionable. Graduating college, maybe- I certainly had my doubts I could do that, and I did. But that was less a matter of achievement than one of stubbornness- I graduated because I was too stubborn not to.

So once again, I'm going to attempt a bank shot. I'm doing this because I can't think of what else to do, and I'm doing this because I have an instinctive distaste for talking about myself. (Strange quality in a blogger, I admit.) In truth, I am doing this because it feels like the only thing I can do. What follows is fiction.

"Chase? Chase? Are you listening to me?"

"Yes, love."

"I don't think I can do this."

"Of course you can do it."

"No, no...I really don't think I can."


"It's so big. Such a big thing to do. Bigger than anything. It's too large for anyone to handle. I know it's natural, and it's normal. But it is too much for me to handle. Too much work, too much stress, too much."

"People handle it all the time."

"I know. I feel like a freak for saying so, but I'm scared. I'm scared of what this will to do me, what it will do to us."

"I know," Chase said. "I'm scared, too. But I'm here for you. With you, You don't have to do it alone."

"Believe me, I appreciate that. I do. But there are parts- like this part- I have to do by myself. You can't do this for me."

"I know." Chase was quiet.

After a few minutes, she spoke again. "Chase?"


"It doesn't matter if I'm ready or not, does it?"

"No, it really doesn't. This is happening whether or not we're ready. But I think we're ready. We're as ready as anybody is, doing this."

"I don't think we're ready. I don't feel ready. There's so much to know."

"We'll figure it out."

"We don't have a lot of time. Any time."

"No, no we don't," Chase said.

"Don't you feel guilty? I mean, don't you feel like we should be better prepared? It's our fault she is here."

"I know. But we'll learn."

"I can't help but think we should have gotten ready. Read a book or took a class or something."

"Maybe. But we're here now. We know what we know, and what we don't know, we'll learn. But I'll be with you, every step of the way. I'm not going to abandon you."

"OK," the doctor said. "Time to push!"


  1. I can say with great certainty that parenthood is the single most difficult objective I've ever undertaken. (That's just another way of saying that my fifth grader kicks my ass.)

    I remind her all the time that she didn't arrive with an operator's manual- I'm writing one as I go, and for crying-out-loud have a little freakin' patience with me.

    You definitely rose to the challenge with this piece of writing and your subject matter of choice.

  2. Parenting IS a challenge. And I certainly had no idea what I was going to be up against when I agreed to do it.

    But I'm glad I did it anyway.

  3. I love this! I too have done little and think I can do less. Which is probably why I came up with this prompt. I love that you turned to fiction to answer it. Very nicely done!

  4. Am I allowed to say that I loved your opening paragraphs? I also loved the answer to the challenge, but you're set-up was also brilliant!! (And, BTW, I would think that playing the piano while skiing is most likely over-rated!) :)

  5. i agree with jason, the set up was great. i also have to say that i'm always in awe of bloggers who can master dialogue, as it's something i always struggle with. you did a great job with this. it formed perfectly, not revealing the end until the end but giving great hints along the way. i really enjoyed it - nice work.

    ps- i also adore the last lecture.

  6. I love the fact you don't know what they are talking about until the last line. That's great.


I apologize for making you sign in, but I'm trying to cut down on spam.