This is the beginning of the end and the end of the beginning. School has finished, summer has become, and I’m sure there’s something to be said about it all.
Here’s your chance: Essay-a-week Challenge. I’ll let David do most of the talking:
“Hark, essayists! Bloggers, behold!
The school year has drawn to a close, and once again we students face four balmy months of mental atrophy. But it need not be so. Two years ago, a wise man named Alec Thomson came upon an idea. With a sprinkling of enthusiasm and encouragement, the idea burgeoned into a plan – a plan that worked so well it was rekindled last year in the capable hands of Kacper Niburski. And now, with trepidation, dare I say that the Essay-A-Week Challenge is well on its way to becoming a full-fledged tradition.
Sixteen weeks, sixteen topics, and the rest is up to you. This year, we’ve made a slight modification for those who find the number sixteen to be unnecessarily daunting. As you will notice, each topic is paired with a similar one so that if you prefer the gentler commitment of writing an essay every two weeks, or if a certain topic just doesn’t work for you, you have options. If you’d like to participate, send me the link to your blog (or post it in comments), and I’ll compile a list of all the writers.
For the love of the tantalizing cursor on a blank screen, for the inspiration that comes to you just as you’re about to fall asleep, and for the words you’re itching to etch into the folds of the internet, the time has come to write with heedless abandon.
These are the topics that Kacper and I prepared, and we hope you like them:
May 10th /17th
A Stranger’s Appraisal
If small-talk is painful for you, then you’re about to make a trip to Hell. Say you’re stuck in an elevator for one whole day with a complete stranger. Afterwards, they go home and describe you. What do they say?
A Short History of You
We are born. We live. And then we die. It’s a shame but it’s true: those few moments we call our own can be summed up in three short sentences. Still, life lingers. It stirs. It goes on again. That’s our history. Tell us about it. Tell us yours. Write a chronology of your life to date.
Most Terrifying Moment
Boo! Did we scare you? If not – boo! Still nothing? Well then show us how it’s done. This week, write about the most terrifying moment in your life.
That night in Paris, the day in Madrid, that one time you fit into pants from elementary school. These are the good moments, the happy ones. Write about that one moment that was the happiest. It could even be writing this essay, though for your sake, let’s hope not.
We can all already tell that this one will be good: predict something about the world or your life ten years down the road. Maybe in Essay-A-Week 2023, you can reflect on your answer.
A Memorable Question
We almost forgot what this week’s topic is. Oh yeah: would you rather lose all of your memories, or not be able to make any new ones?
There’s nothing funny about a joke. A good joke, the kind that makes your spleen crack a little, that makes you cough out a lung, is a very serious thing. It is dangerous. Because at its core, it’s a little mystery of the universe, a veiled truth uncovered. Tell us that truth. Write about the funniest joke you know.
The Shawshank Redemption was a terrible movie, wouldn’t you agree? Gandhi was such a chump! And what’s so bad about Jack Kevorkian? (After all, what kind of twisted soul would have a problem with youth in Asia…) This week, write something controversial, and make it convincing. If you don’t have any enemies yet, this is your chance to make them.
Simple. This week, write about your first love. Maybe it was just a crush, unrequited and fleeting, or maybe it was a tragically epic romance set in a schoolyard. Whichever it was, make sure to put your heart into this one.
Mistakes You Keep On Making
You can put your heart into this essay too, especially if you fall in love with everything that you do. That might be a mistake, though. Discuss those mistakes you just keep making over and over again.
Invent a Word
Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk. If that sounded like thunder clapping in your mouth, then James Joyce’s etymological monster was coined perfectly. Try to do the same. Invent a word, its meaning, and whatever else. It’s your “Joyce” what you do. But don’t take tips from Finnegan.
This week, you’re not allowed to post anything that isn’t stolen directly from another source. Express yourself – speak your truth – but use someone else’s words. Not these words though, because it’s not about what this essay can do for you but what you can do for this essay.
It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No – it’s your hero. Tell us about them, whoever or whatever they may be. God knows that cheesecake can save lives.
You’re The Hero
Believe it or not, somebody out there worships you. Maybe it’s your four-year-old cousin, or maybe it’s your teddy bear. Whoever it is, what is it about you that makes them think you’re so special?
T-Minus Sixty Minutes
It’s over, and since the beginning, it was always going to end. You will go the way of the essays soon enough. Imagine you have one hour left to live, and you’re not allowed to tell anyone about it. How do you spend your final hour?
In a similar vein (or at least in one of the last throbs of its vitality), you have shuffled off this mortal coil and somehow managed to stick around for the grand finale: your funeral. This week, write your ideal eulogy. Write about how you want to be remembered.”
Look to the “Other Blogs” section to see those who have participated or will continue to. If you wish to begin one as well, I wish you more than the best of luck. Let it begin.