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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: 14 Days to the great American novel
By sharron pete


I could see the promise of fame peeking through the brown envelope. Filled with excitement I couldn’t wait to tear open the package and begin my journey of exploration. Months ago I had seen Jerry Sharks’ infomercial on TV ’14 Days to the great American novel’. Jerry in his sharp navy suit and crisp striped tie was the president and founder of this unique program that turned the average Joe (or in my case, JoAnn) into a novelist in a mere two weeks! Testimonials from Beth in Sheboygan and Claire in Cleveland made me a believer. Plus for the unbelievable low price of $19.95 I could get it all: The Great American novel workbook designed to cultivate your ideas with writing quips, character outlines, plot development techniques and more. In addition, the offer also included a handy writer’s reference book complete with grammar guides for help with adjectives, adverbs, and the like. Key to the package was Jerry’s journal, a step-by-step guide to tips to help with things like writer’s block.

As I began to open the brown envelope and expose its contents to light it donned on me the audacious task that lay before me. Greater still was the sense of pride and accomplishment that would fill me at the end of my two-week journey.

Day one’s instructions were to reflect on memorable experiences in my life. From these, it was suggested I could develop ideas to build on for the novel. This was easy I thought as ideas flooded to my mind: the day I learned I was adopted, my first year at college, the (fill in blank).

Days two through five were a blur. I read through the instructions but had little opportunity to do much else. It seems the entire household save me came down with the flu. I spent my hours flittering between rooms tending to kids. Three kids all with the flu at the same time! By the end of day five I was so exhausted I didn’t know left from right. Plus I was starting to experience a dry scratchy feeling in the back of my throat. That plus a runny nose and feverish chills made Day six a nightmare.

By Day seven I was staving off the flu. I doped up with everything I could think of: Nyquil, Tylenol, Advil, Robitussin, anything that would do the trick. The medicine made me a little loopy which was enough to scare the children into giving me the privacy I needed complete the workbook exercises. The exercise for the day involved plot outline and character development. Fueled by the medicine I flew through the exercises in warp speed propelled by my idea to write about the day I learned I was adopted. The topic had excitement and emotions with characters I could easily portray in writing.

Days eight, nine, and ten were glorious. Steve, my husband, was out of town on business and the kids were wrapped up with school and extracurricular activities that left me with a good portion of the day to concentrate on my novel.

Day eleven was slow going. Joshua had a science project due the following day and had decided to procrastinate. I spent the better part of my day helping him do research and running between craft stores.

Days twelve and thirteen were good. I was still far from an ending but pushing right along. Somewhere along the way however, I began to doubt the Jerry Shark’s method. I wondered how in the world anybody could seriously write a novel in 14 days. I must have been out of my mind to think I could do this! Torn between my desire to finish and my

Day fourteen was the last straw! My oldest Jamie, cleverly reminded me that I volunteered to bake six dozen cookies for the school’s bake sale. Who in the world volunteers to bake six-dozen cookies and gives themselves one day to do it! That must have been the Tylenol cocktail talking.

As day fourteen came to a close, I realized that not completing the novel in 14 days didn’t make me a failure. I chalked the situation up to an experience, one that I could use for the day when I did actually get the opportunity to write the next great American novel. Which according to my calculations could be any day now. This is the fifth time I’ve gone through Jerry Shark’s program.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sandra Petersen 01/18/07
Isn't it funny how life intrudes when you get an idea and want to write? Good job at conveying that real-life frustration of every writer.

Your last paragraph was a good wrap-up of the entire experience.

Need I say it? Keep writing!
Jan Ackerson 01/18/07
Witty and readable, with a great voice.

A few mechanical things to clear up--notably comma usage.

This has great potential; I really enjoyed your wry humor.
Joanne Sher 01/18/07
Very cute and clever - love the last paragraph too.
Judy Sauer 01/18/07
Your story took me on a journey I have experienced, albeit a different path, with the same ending conclusion. Thanks for articulating how our great ideas are not always in sync with God's and that in the end what matters most.
Donna Powers 01/19/07
I can so relate to your frustration and enjoyed your amusing account of your unfinished novel. This is an amusing story and I liked it very much.
Leigh MacKelvey01/22/07
The last line made me giggle! I wasn't expecting it. I liked the progressional account throughout each day. This was very good. Keep it up!
Julie Arduini01/24/07
This was great. Original, I loved the Tylenol cocktail line best of all.