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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)

TITLE: Misplaced Concentration
By Rachel Burkum


Rudy stared at his computer screen, the clicking of keys the only sound in the quiet office. His eyes zeroed in on every word typed, his mind never wandering from the subject. The characters were alive. They sprang up before him as the blank page evolved into a living dream – a movie playing for an audience of vivid imaginations. Each one…


A typo skidded across the pristine document of words and Rudy cringed. The moment was shattered. “Becca, I told you, Daddy’s working. I’ll come play with you in ten minutes.”

“But…” The little voice was muffled beyond the closed door as the six-year-old pressed her mouth near the keyhole.

“Go help your mother with Jacob.” Rudy heard his daughter’s soft footsteps retreat from the door and he turned back to his computer. Squinting, he tried to pick up where he’d left off.

…The characters were alive. They sprang up before him as the blank page evolved into a living dream – a movie…

Knock, knock, knock. “Are you going to stay in there all night?”

Rudy sighed and rolled his eyes, fortunate his wife couldn’t see him. “No, Lydia.”

“Okay, but don’t forget you promised Becca to play that game with her.”

“Just give me ten more minutes!” Rudy refocused as he was left in peaceful quiet once more.

…playing for an audience of vivid imaginations. Each one took on personalities of their own, forming lifelike beings that captured the attention of any reader. The words persuaded the mind to dive into the heroic tale where the heart, now captivated, would be lost forever in the bliss of…


Rudy heard Jacob’s squeal outside the door, and knew his little boy was on all fours, probably having crawled out from under his big sister’s eye. “Becca?!”

“Come on, Jacob, let’s go back to the kitchen.”


Rudy stared at the wall for a moment, hearing Lydia come rescue wailing Jacob from Becca’s unsuccessful attempts to drag him back to the other end of the house. Trying to regain his thoughts, his fingers again rested on the keys.

…the bliss of living in a world apart from reality. If only for a moment where one could get lost in the pages, free from…


“No!” Rudy’s hand came down hard on his desk, scattering a stack of papers. “I’m trying to concentrate here! Can no one leave me alone?!”

“Do you really want me to?”

“I just want some peace and quiet!”


“Ten minutes!”

“Would you listen to yourself for one of those ten?”

Rudy stopped and looked up at the ceiling. “You of all people should know I’m only trying to get this story done. Then I can spend time with my family. Don’t forget, you’re the one that made me with this gift of writing in the first place.”

“I didn’t give it to you so you could abuse it.”

Rudy’s mouth opened again, but this time he stopped himself from a smart retort. “I’m just trying to focus on the talent you gave me.”

“I also gave you a family.”


“Would you rather sacrifice your family and pay attention only to your writing?”

“Well of course not!” Rudy’s statement was met by silence. But the silence spoke more than words could. His eyes drifted to the floor. “I guess I see your point.”

“Good. Now let me read what you’ve written while you go spend time with your family.”

Rudy looked at his computer screen one last time.

…where one could get lost in the pages, free from…eating humble pie.


“Alright, alright!” Rudy stood up from his desk and shut down his computer. “Next time, give me a nice reminder before I get this far, will you?”

“Next time, pay more attention. I tried to get you away from that story three times.”

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This article has been read 879 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Gregory Kane08/01/08
Hey, I've been there! My four-year-old is currently going through a phase of bleating out "What can I do?" - even as he walks away from a shared activity we have just completed.
Emily Gibson08/01/08
A good reminder to us all! I think we've all been there and you articulated it well.
Yvonne Blake 08/02/08
*Ouch!* I think many of us can relate to this. I liked the different voices of your characters, the voice of God in italics.
Well done.
Dianne Janak08/03/08
Ha! I was irritated when the phone rang while trying to leave this comment.. what do people think? I have all day to talk on the phone when I'm a faithwriter?? GREAT reminder.. story... thanks for the punch..
Betty Castleberry08/04/08
Uh Oh. Convicted. Good job with the dialog. This was an entertaining read.
Helen Dowd08/04/08
Enjoyable story, and so sad! I am sure it happens all too often, especially with computers and concentration. I did have a bit of difficulty near the end, seperating the call from the wife and children, to the call from God. Would have been totally excellent if a bit more of a notice of Who was talking...But that is just my opinion...Well done...Helen
Helen Dowd08/04/08
Okay. Second comment. After having read the other comments (I try not to do so until I have commented, so as not to influence me), I did notice, as was pointed out by the last commenter, that you DID distinguish God's voice from the family by putting God's words in italics. Sorry...Helen
Lynda Schultz 08/04/08
Ooooh, cut it out and tape it to the computer screen. Great message wrapped in excellent packaging.
Lynda Lee Schab 08/04/08
Hey...great minds think alike - we wrote from the same angle this week. :-) You did a wonderful job - very realistic scene. I could so relate!
Lyn Churchyard08/05/08
Good stuff Rachel, it's so easy to get involved in our writing that everything else seems to pale into insignificance. God had given us writing ability AND families. It would be awful to lose either, but especially our family. Very well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/06/08
Great story to show
God's gifts--talent and family, as well as the wisdom to find the right priorities.
Loren T. Lowery08/07/08
Been there, done that, but you expressed it so much better. Congratulations, Rachel on placing with this wonderful piece of writing. Loren
Patricia Turner08/07/08
Wow! Good Rudy finally listened to God's voice or nothing else would have mattered. Great piece of writing and a well deserved EC win.
Jason Swiney08/08/08
I really like the following line: “Good. Now let me read what you’ve written while you go spend time with your family.” I think God has told me this a few times, and its difficult to cover my ears and keep pecking on the keyboard. You wonderfully expressed a truth about balancing writing and family, and congratulations on being rewarded for it.