Conference Challenge #7: It was a day like any other…then it wasn’t


September 11th is a day in our country’s history that will never be forgotten. It had a special impact on our region, with Washington, DC our neighbor to the south and Shanksville, PA our neighbor to the north. It is a day to reflect, remember, grieve and give thanks. As writers and illustrators, it is also a time to remember how fortunate we are that our artistic voices are not silenced like so many others, whether it be by the ill-winds of political oppression, poverty, hunger or war. We are rich indeed that somehow we have the means to do what others here and abroad cannot, but would sorely love to.

I had a difficult time trying to come up with a worthy challenge for you, racking my brain all day yesterday and when I first woke up this morning.  After getting my kids off to school, I turned on the TV and watched the recounting of that fateful day.  I, like so many others, remembered where I was and what I was doing. September 11, 2001 started out like any other day.

And then it wasn’t.

In the rubble of those sad memories, I discovered our next challenge.

It was a day like any other…then it wasn’t. Actually, this is more of a writing prompt. Take it and write whatever comes to you. It doesn’t have to be sad or bittersweet. It can be about someone winning the lottery or getting their first kiss. After all, wonderful things can happen on September 11th – like the birth of my youngest daughter, who is 16 today. Her arrival made our family complete!

For our illustrators, your challenge is to draw the face of a character the moment the day like any other became just the opposite.

There is only one more challenge left before the conference. Remember you can do them in any order, just be sure to make a comment in the post of that particular challenge that you completed it. We want you to have every chance to win one of our fabulous goodie baskets! Here are the links to the previous six:

Challenge #1: Two Friends and a Kitchen Table

Challenge #2: Victimize a Villain

Challenge #3: Conflict–Can’t live with it, can’t write without it

Challenge #4: Give yourself a job review

Challenge #5: Introducing Your Main Character

Challenge #6: Laughter Through Tears

Happy writing and illustrating!

About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
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4 Responses to Conference Challenge #7: It was a day like any other…then it wasn’t

  1. Melissa Jarvis says:

    Challenge #7: Accomplished. It was a day like any other … and then it wasn’t

    “Why does she always do that? Why does she stomp off when she doesn’t get her way?” I was walking back along the muddy path and talking out loud to no one. That’s the cool thing about living out in the boonies, you can walk around in the woods and talk to yourself and no one hears. Kind of like if there’s a tree and it falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a girl who is pissed with her best friend, walks around talking to herself in the middle of BFE, will anyone hear her? The birds, the racoons, the deer, but no one else. “God, she makes me so mad.” I screamed that last bit. I screamed it so loud, tears sprung from my eyes. I decided at that moment that she was no longer my best friend.
    Touching the trees calmed me. My muddy hands against the rough groves of the bark–I remember thinking they were beautiful somehow. Black, wet dirt under my nails, the little ring Dad had given me for my birthday encrusted with mud.

    I couldn’t remember how long I had walked around among the trees, along the creek, but when I heard my name, my first thought was ‘am I lost?’ The trees, the path, the sun through the leaves have a way of making me forget. Dad was coming up the path. He didn’t limp then. He was strong and handsome, the thick, black hair falling into his eyes. His green eyes looking straight into mine.

    “Where have you girls been? Your mom’s worried to death.” He placed his hands on my shoulders. The smell of earth and sweat and worry surrounded me. I didn’t say anything. “Where’s Ellie?” he asked.
    “She went home a long time ago. She was cold.” Anger bubbled up inside of me again. Ex-best friend.

    “No, she isn’t home. Her mom has called the house a couple of times already. Come on, let’s get you in the truck.” He marched me down the path to where his truck was parked idling on the road. I climbed in through his side. My skin prickled all over as it warmed in the blasting truck heat. He shifted–click, click, click–into drive. The green clock numbers displayed 2:45. Ellie and I had left my house at 9:30.

    There was a police car in the driveway. Mom was standing on the porch with Chief Mack who was rolling an unlit cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. The next hour is blurry and dark in places. There were questions. Chief Mack took my hands in his turning them over and over. Dad’s voice was loud. The police car backed out of the driveway and the sun dipped behind the mountain. The rest of the night isn’t even a memory. It doesn’t exist. I never had the chance to tell her she was ex-best friend.

  2. Summer B says:

    Completed. I continued with the Conflict Challenge storyline. This time with a family member being called to take in a neice she never knew she had to save her from foster care.

    Seven down, one to go!

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