How many words can you write in 15 minutes? This morning I was challenged by my students to prove that I could write 800 words in the space of a 90 minute lesson. I said if I did then they had to. This came after a discussion about effort and how many words of a first draft could be achieved in one lesson. So anyway, within 15 minutes I proved my point: 627 words.
The response was mixed: “awww, miss, you are smarter than us!” “You’re making us feel bad now because we can’t write like that.” And so on. However, one or two were spurred on to make more effort than usual too.
Here’s my 627 words below. Not bad for a fifteen minute first draft, even if I do say so myself. How many might you manage in a similar time?
“The hills were aglow with the beauty of the night’s sky. The scintillating stars were twinkling above my head. The smell of a distant campfire and the sound of it crackling in the woods wafted into the range of my senses. But I was alone. All alone.
My loneliness was not unwelcome. I enjoyed the splendor of my solitude. The only company I had was the stars. The globular lights in the ether capacious. They pulled on my heart strings as gems carbonaceous. My feelings ran through me with urgency and I decided to run.
I ran with all the pulsating power my thighs could muster. My nylon dry-fit leggings were doing their job nicely. The air met my face like a buffeting tail wind around the rudder of a light aircraft: a glider perhaps. My hair was taught against my scalp and the mud under my feet was of no concern. It was just me and the road and the paths on the hills.
Suddenly, the heavens changed: it was a metamorphosis of transient sensory deception – a thunderstorm was looming but it hadn’t yet arrived. Was it night, or hell on the horizon? I couldn’t tell. The potential Val Halle was emitting sonic booms in my imagination already; sonic booms of excitement, fear and thrills all wrapped up together. I had stopped still in my steam train tracks of speed. Mud had spurted onto my face in tiny splashes of miniscule mayhem – a chaotic reminder of my journey so far.
My journey! What had that been? It was all too much to recall sometimes. A metaphor for it may be a boat trip across a stormy ocean, or a balloon ride through a lightening ridden sky. Or was it perhaps hanging on for my own dear life as a runaway train went hurtling out of control into the depths of a valley? Whatever it was, it had been tumultuous, terrific and intrepid. I had grown so much because of it. I had grown so much I could barely remember the young girl I had been before the journey of my life had begun.
As a young girl I had been carefree and full of hope: now I was driven and angry, but enthused with the prospect of winning the race. It was an ultra-run: 100 miles. Was I crazy? Yes. All ultra-runners are. Men and women with insane goals and nothing else in their life – their lonesome, solitary life. That’s all you need to be an ultra runner: no life apart from the run. The run of death for some, over ridiculous terrain, by torrid rivers and arid deserts.
In the midst of my marathon of madness things were clear: my life had purpose and I was the bullet shooting out of a loaded weapon. I could achieve everything. My existence was defined by the motion I was folding out into and enveloping with my toned, muscular, lean body. My calves were as tight as a tarpaulin stretched over a newly harvested crop that the farmer wanted to protect from the elements more than his life.
My feet started to pound the ground once more. Bang, bang, thump. It wasn’t a chore but a dream come true. My ambitions were nearing their climax. The undergrowth I was leaping over scratched and tore at my shins as I raced ahead: I didn’t feel it though. I didn’t care. It didn’t matter.
Run, run, run. It’s all that mattered.
I was alive, although nearly half dead.
My mind flashed through scenes from my childhood – I remembered the good and the bad. The tears, the pain, the cheers and joy. It was complete. And so was I. I had done it – 100 miles in 24 hours. I collapsed in ecstasy.”