a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, March 10, 2013


The Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by TWO WRITING TEACHERS

This Friday marked another meeting of our staff quick write group.  We like to call ourselves “Write Club.”  {The first rule of Write Club is that everyone is invited.  Consider this slice your invitation.}

What started out to be a way to discipline myself to take time to play with writing, has turned into the ultimate bonding experience.  We meet every other Friday and each non-Write Club Friday I hear from at least one member about how he/she wishes it was a Write Club Friday.  The experience is renewing—the perfect transition from work to weekend.

There are about seven of us who attend regularly, including my husband who also teaches at my school.  I had initially intended for us to read a springboard text, write, and leave.  However, it has just become natural to share what we wrote and celebrate the gems in each other’s approach.  Thankfully, the types of gems we each have to offer vary greatly.  We laugh, we cry, we think deeply, we marvel at language. 

The springboard text I chose this Friday was the first three pages of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.  If you have not read this book, you are seriously missing out.  I knew this excerpt would have appeal for each member of our group for various reasons, but I had no idea where it would lead us.  The possibilities were endless, as you will see below.

Here’s my quick write:

I lifted the following line from the text as my inspiration: “What if they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers?” 

Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter—ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM—matches the sound of a heartbeat—the thrumming beat of line after line, ten syllables at a time of story—a poetic verse pumping life into the work of a four hundred year old scribe.

What if our hearts beat out the lines of our stories?  A pulsing of pain, joy, routine, and connection.  If we listened closely enough we would hear the history of the soul inside each body we met.  If we talked too loud, moved too quickly, we would miss out, stories would beat into the empty air, ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM-whoosh. 

Here is my husband’s quick write:

I have been thinking a lot about my wanted superpower lately.  You know, the superpower that comes to mind when a kid comes up to you and asks, "If you could have any superpower, what would your power be?”

I have been thinking about it a lot because I have encountered events in my life on a daily basis that my super power would be at least fun, if not useful to have these days.

My superpower?  I would love to have the power to cause a person full-on cramping diarrhea.  Not the kind that slowly creeps up on you, but the immediate kind that starts flying out without getting a chance to tighten the old sphincter.  There is no way in the world anyone would be able to continue with their crime if I were to use it for good.  Imagine a person robbing a bank and just as they ask for the cash, a fountain of unwanted chocolate comes flying out of their crease.  The cramping alone would cause them to drop their weapon and beg for instant death.

Imagine a person hi-jacking a plane.  The person would fall to the ground with the sweats and use the box cutter on their own pants to release the pressure of the pudding pile beneath them.

Imagine any crime possible, from rape to home invasion.  The cramping and the diarrhea would stop the crime.  If people started getting the message that if you are about to commit a crime, the immediate result would be cramping and messing, some criminals might consider ways of getting around this agony.  Maybe they would drink a bottle of Kaopectate before arriving at the scene of the crime.  Maybe they would stop up their hole with a tennis ball.  Maybe they would fast for a month so there was nothing left to come out.  Not a problem!  I would just increase the pressure!  Maybe it would just be an ill wind that come outs, but the wind would cause so much pain and embarrassment, that the crime would end immediately.

Now, what if I would apply my superpowers to people I simply didn’t like.  A model who thinks that she is all that?  A student who thinks he can get away with bullying?  An administrator who does not know curriculum?  The possibilities are endless. 


  1. Amazing how the quick write took you both in entirely different directions! I love your idea of our heartbeats connected to the rhythms of our stories - our souls. But, your husband's idea of a super power was hilarious - especially the use to which he'd put it. His details were audaciously brilliant - at once too clear for comfort and yet irresistibly funny. I shall be wandering around henceforward wishing for this power at opportune moments!

  2. First off, I love that you have a write club. I wonder if I can get one started? Your husband writes like several of my high school boys. I laughed out loud as I read about the cramping diarrhea. And now, I will for that power at opportune moments....

  3. The writing from each person is so unique even though you each had the same piece for inspiration. All I can say is ewww! But it would be effective. Let's just say I would not want to be on the bad side of your husband. It was so descriptive, I can tell he hangs out with junior high kids. :-)

  4. I love the idea of a Write Club. Sadly, I don't think my colleagues would be ready to commit. I wish we could do something like this. It sounds like such a nice way to develop relationships with colleagues. I did cohost a writing club for students this year, though, and it was wonderful. I may share the details in a slice this month.

  5. There is a possibility that I will be part of my own Write Club one day. There is no chance that my husband would write for the fun of it. Two of you took off in different directions with this quick write. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Love the idea of a Write Club with adults or students. So interesting/hilarious to read your unique responses to the chosen springboard text. I had a little trouble sticking with this book, but in the end I was glad that I did. Thanks for sharing. ~ Theresa

  7. And this is why I sometimes wish I worked at a larger school. The teachers I work with almost run each other over on their way out. I don't believe i could convince them to stay twice a month to write....maybe I'll try anyway:)

  8. Tell your husband that it's possible that writing like his could actually cause this phenomenon--I laughed so hard I almost lost control over ever bodily function. Hilarious! I imagined it read in a sort of serious, musing sort of way....
    I have obviously not given my own superpower wishes enough time or attention.
    (know that my comments to your hubby are not intended to distract from the powerful thing you've created with writing club....it's just that he made his writing a little hard to ignore...or maybe I'm just too immature? too much time lately spent with high school boys?)

  9. There are books (very different books) lurking in both of you. Thanks for sharing with us and showing the power of a inspiration text.

  10. Celebrating the little gems - yep, my favorite. Loved both of your pieces and the differences shared.

  11. Bravo to you and your "Write Club"! I love it! And I love that your husband is right there writing too! What fun! Loved the book choice. Loved your quick writes. The possibilities are endless!

  12. I shared what I wrote in Write Club today...the one about the homeless man's feet (in response to Penny Kittle's Hands...it was Kittle, right?). Today they wrote for 25 minutes. That has never happened before. They were inspired by Neal Shusterman. One kid asked for the newspaper; he said he was looking for an idea, and if I can find them there, so can he.

    Thanks for inviting me.