I subscribe to an online writers magazine called “Narrative”. It consists of stories, both fiction and non-fiction, poems. And other types of writings. The magazine consistently has some type of writing contest going on with cash rewards for at least the top three places.
Now, I am under no delusion that if I entered any of these contest my writing would be considered for any type of reward or of publication in the magazine for my writing, but it is interesting to do research there.
Today they have a contest entitled “Do-Overs.” At first glance, or I should say my first impression on reading the title, I thought the topic was going to entail something that the contestants had done in their lives that they would like a chance to go back and “do over.” Instead the contest is a search for thoughts on how the effect a book that has had on us might be different if the title was different…contents the same just a different title.
Here let me put it in their exact words…hopping that there is no copyright infringement involved:
HOW WOULD OUR FAVORITE BOOKS sit with us if they were called something else? What if War and Peace went by The Year 1805, as it did when it first appeared in the Russian Herald, or All’s Well That Ends Well, which Tolstoy tried out next? What if Pride and Prejudice had been called First Impressions, a title under which Austen’s father submitted an early version to a publisher?
Interesting essay to write but not what I expected when I began reading. You know how your mind jumps ahead during the telling of a joke, anticipating and trying to guess the punch line? I was way off. Like I said I was expecting the topic to lead us to something that was that had happened in life that the constant would have liked to change…like striking out in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run on third and the championship on the line. Oh yea that’s a “do over!” If I had only hit a single, drove in the winning run during that nonevent, minor league Little League game, I would have been vaulted into the fast lane to be the second-baseman of a Chicago White Sox, World Series Champion team…being named the most valuable player in the process. But I wonder way off base here.
But still how much more interesting it would be to here all those “Do Over” stories were really about “Do Overs.” You know, the “I wish I hadn’ts or I wish I hads.” This change in the contests expectation would “sit” better with me and would be even more interesting to try and figure out how that do over might have changed the writers life and as a byproduct, affected everyone that the writer has been involved with since the event, regardless how inconsequential the passing might have been. We have all heard of the butterfly affect…the wing flap in some part of the world and the corresponding disaster in another…and what might have happened if some time traveler has inadvertently killed that butterfly during some time travel-tourism adventure; something to think about. Would traveling through time to change something in our life that we wish had or hadn’t happen, be so important to change that we would risk the fate of the entire world on it…or would changing that event really have the dreaded butterfly affect that is so often pondered by deep thinkers? Guess if you aren’t a deep thinker it wouldn’t even cross your mind.
Back to where all this started. The contest was for 18 to 30 year olds anyway and my train of thought that got derailed didn’t leave the station any way. If it had it would be pondering the question of, “What in the world could someone below thirty have done that would have been so eventful that they would have to go back and change it anyway?” Seriously, those under thirty don’t trust anyone over thirty…and those over thirty don’t feel that anyone thirty have lived enough life to have enough life experience to have a point of view on anything important anyway. “Like, should I, like get the iPhone 3gs or, like, wait until, like, the iPhone 4 comes out?”….and “how would it sit” with the under thirty’s if Steve Jobs had come up with a more mundane name for his company’s game changing phone?