I’m always up for a challenge. When I go to a new restaurant, I always try to order something unusual. If a friend recommends an up-and-coming band, I always download a song or two to see if it the music resonates with me. I like to push the boundaries in a lot of ways except for when it comes to my writing.
As I look back on all my manuscripts, I seem to write what makes me comfortable. And as many seasoned writers know, sometimes this isn’t always the best thing because you’re not growing your craft. Teaching yourself how to develop something new.
A couple of months ago I decided I needed to be tested. I had four fulls and three partials out and the agonizing crush of constantly refreshing my email was getting to me. When I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, I saw a note from Carey Torgesen asking writers if they’d be interested in participating in a “sekrit project.” I wrote her and asked for more details.
She told me she was developing a new blog project where she would post stories based around a single premise – an old suitcase discovered in an abandoned building. Participating writers would be sent a photo from a scrapbook discovered inside the case and asked to incorporate the image in a meaningful way into a story.
I hesitated for a day. Could I pull something like that off, especially when I hadn’t seen the picture? Was I a good enough writer to be featured among some pretty stellar authors? After a few days, I kicked doubt from my brain and told Carey I would participate.
Then the picture arrived in my inbox.
And my heart sank.
I looked at it for days trying to get inspired. Several ideas ran through my mind but none of them felt right. Eventually, I went back to Carey’s email and looked at the overall premise – the suitcase, the building, the scrapbook and inspiration struck.
Twelve hours later “Departures” was complete. It’s a stretch for me in terms of genre. Yet the ability to go outside my comfort zone was liberating. Writing the story proved to me that I could literally build something from nothing.
My story appears on July 18, but prior to that, many amazing writers will be sharing their own inventive tales. Be sure to follow Carey Torgesen’s blog or #TheMemoryProject on Twitter and come along for the ride. I’m sure the stories will not only entertain you, but perhaps inspire you to take on a writing challenge of your own!