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Thread: Side Trips Challenge "Someone that I knew."

  1. #1
    Forum Moderator H.Brown's Avatar
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    Side Trips Challenge "Someone that I knew."

    Side Trips NON-FICTION

    The topic is

    "Someone that I knew!"

    Important you must read this before entering

    The goal this month is, telling a story based around someone you knew. They can be either living or dead, they can be in your life or not. Tell us the story as you see it with them as the main character.

    As a writer it is your job to tell an engaging story that will convince them.

    There are changes in how the Challenge is to be scored. Criteria for judging will be based on delivery and entertainment value.
    There is no limit to the number of pieces that you may score as a member. Please add a brief description of how you arrived at your findings. Please score as many as you can, you are under no obligation to score any, of course the more feedback for the entrants the better.
    Total average score wins

    All entries are to be sent to me to be posted anonymously in the thread. There will be a separate thread for scoring.

    Post any questions in the Road house Diner thread, or go to last months challenge to read the entries or go to the voting and polls section to see how they were scored

    The winner will receive a badge pinned to their profile and given a month’s access to FoWF where you’ll have access to hidden forums and use of the chat room.


    • All forum rules apply. Side Trips is considered a creative area of the forum. If your entry contains inappropriate language or content, do not forget add a disclaimer or it could result in disciplinary actions taken. Click here for the full list of rules and guidelines of the forum.
    • No Poetry! Nothing against you poets out there, but this isn't a place for your poems. Head on over to the poetry challenges for good competition over there. Some of us non-fiction people wouldn’t be able to understand your work! Click Herefor the poetry challenges.
    • No posts that are not entries into the competition are allowed. If you have any questions, concerns, or wish to take part in discussion please head over to the The
    • Roadhouse Diner We’ll be glad to take care of your needs over there.
    • Editing your entry after posting isn’t allowed. You’ll be given a ten minute grace period, but after that your entry may not be scored.
    • Only one entry per member.
    • No liking entries until the scores go up.
    • The word limit is 650 words not including the title. If you go over - Your entry will not be counted. Microsoft Word and Google Drive are the standard for checking this. If you feel it’s incorrect, send it to the host of the competition and we’ll check it for you and add our approval upon acceptance.
    • Sources must be cited if appropriate. Citations are excluded from any word limit. The content of footnotes (which includes expository, supplemental information) are also excluded from the 650 word limit, but instead must abide by its own limit of 200 words.
      • 1. Important note: The inclusion of cited sources is not always necessary. Some non-fiction genres, such as memoir or personal essay, do not typically include sources.

    There are a few ways to post your entry:

    1. I will place your entry in the Writer's Workshop forum if you wish to protect your first rights, in case, or if you hope to have the entry published one day. otherwise it will be in the Side Trip Challenge forum for all to see.
    2. All entries are to posted anonymously. To do so, send your entry to the host of the competition. Please mark in the title the story name and that is a entry to the contest. If you wish to have us post it in the workshop thread then "say so." Your name will be made public in the poll thread once the challenge is over, unless you would rather remain un-known.

    Writers of all skill levels are welcome and encouraged to participate.

    This competition will close on:
    April 1st at 12 am EST.

    Last edited by H.Brown; March 5th, 2017 at 01:58 PM.

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  3. #3
    Forum Moderator H.Brown's Avatar
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    Peter Parnall.

    I settled in the seat, opened a bottle of water, set the cruise control and with a glad heart, looked forward to the 9 hour trip back home. A road trip is a great, time to think and reflect and this trip had a very important purpose.

    Peter, whom Iíve known for almost 40 years agreed to an interview. I told him I wanted to record his stories. It was also a chance for two old friends to spend the weekend together, drink some very fine bourbon and talk about the past.

    There are many layers of a person, for an author it is often more complex. There is their personal life, then their professional life. It took me a while for me to be able to separate the two. When you make your living as a storyteller it is easy to blur the two.

    I met Pete when I was 18, he was 41 though there was a big difference in ages we shared many of the same passions. On a farm in the woods along the coast of Maine, his art studio was a converted hen house. He was living the idyllic life of a popular writer. Dressed in plaid hunting clothes a wool cap and cigar, he looked every bit the part of the successful writer. The studio was his stage. I got the tour, got the spiel, and got the stories that went along with each of the artifacts there the first time we met. The handmade coat from 5 or 6 kinds of animals that he had trapped and skinned, and then stitched by hand. His art work covered the walls. A bookcase overflowing with ones he had either illustrated or written over the years; 50 or so back then, today over 80. He told me about his childhood, playing cowboys and Indians with real Indians on the reservations. He of course played the Indian, and the Indians played the cowboys. Tales of out west, tales of nature and his fascination with wildlife. Pete had this spiel all down to a science, it was a package deal and he knew how to present the package.

    A storyteller tells stories, he understands his audience more importantly, what they expect; kind of like the cover of the book being a good indication of whatís inside. The people who came by to visit his studio got that package and left with a desire to buy more of his art, purchase his next book or they valued the ones they already had even more. Writing is a business. Pete was and is an excellent salesman. He booked tours, entertained and sold his philosophy to any that would listen. He worked long hours to achieve his level of success; he is part of that one percent who has made a good living from writing, which most of us have only dreamed of.

    That Peter was not the one I was coming to interview and spend two days with; it was the guy who was my friend, the guy who I had shared the good times and the bad with. Failed marriages, the loss of two sons. The guy who through all of lifeís problems still managed to keep swinging. A guy that I loved and respected.

    I had heard most of his stories before, I am very inquisitive by nature and always asked the questions which would lead to a story. Pete is going to be 80 soon. I wanted to preserve those stories and the lessons in success and failure that he had learned, so that others could gain from it.

    I spent two days with Pete, the recorder and the camera on as we went over the details of his life. What a time we had as two close friends being able to share that together. What gift it is to truly get to know someone.

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Forum Moderator H.Brown's Avatar
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    Last of her generation.

    Last of her generation

    I lost my grandparents at regular intervals Ė 1982, 1993, 2003, 2015. Itís striking for me how differently I responded to each death.

    I was only four when my paternal grandfather died. I canít remember how I reacted - in fact, Iíve no memories left of him at all. For my maternal grandfather, a decade later, I clearly remember, but even though I liked him, I didnít really have the empathy to feel the loss with any weight. I do recall a certain heaviness of mood when my motherís mother died, but it was only the fourth and final blow that really struck home.

    Visiting my fatherís mother for the last time, a month before her death, I had to turn away so she wouldnít see my tears. The strong, wilful woman with whom Iíd interacted once a year every year from the cradle onwards lay in a small hospital room with five others, confused and slow to respond. Then, and again at her funeral, I felt the full weight of a life of ninety-five years coming to an end, even though Iíd only seen a fraction of it myself.

    There are, perhaps, selfish reasons why this death hit me so much harder than the previous three. She was the last of her generation; now my parents, with whom Iím very close, are next up. Then it will be the turn of me and my siblings. With a nephew and nieces now in the family, Iím conscious of being one step further from lifeís beginning and one step closer to its end.

    Still, I mustnít be too hard on myself. Over the years, Iíve slowly gained the ability to empathise, to appreciate other people on their own merits, and not just through their relationship to me. Nana was no saint, to be sure Ė she was quick to take offence, and had harsh feelings towards Germans and the Japanese she was still carrying with her seventy years after World War II.

    But she was also strong and loyal to her family. She brought up four children by herself while her husband fought in the war. I always found her to be kind, and understanding of my own eccentricities.

    Perhaps that was also a reason why her death hit me the hardest. Iíd had time to see the best and the worst of her, the good and the bad, the little nuances that make up a person. At the end, she wasnít just my grandmother.

    She was someone I knew.

  6. #6
    Forum Moderator H.Brown's Avatar
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    Someone I knew. (Some Mature Language)

    (some mature language)

    me: Hi.
    him: oh fuck you

    My internet friend is crazy. Not fun crazy, daring-adventures crazy, or weird-habits crazy -- he's spent-a-few-days-in-a-mental-hospital-and-takes-meds crazy.

    I try to help him sort out what is real and what is not. He is fixated on a woman from his past. One of my successes is convincing him I am not her -- though I still have to occasionally remind him. One of my Sisyphean battles is explaining that, when his friends say she is coming to a bar, and then she doesn't show up, it's because they have no idea who she is. I suspect he doesn't remember her name. He will get angry at me because I won't let him drink coke and he will start ranting that he should be able to drink coke and I'm just going Huh? What?

    What started out as occasional charity has become occasional friendship. I like him. He's genuine. When I ask how he's doing, I get a real answer -- a rant often, but those are real. We're playful -- there's a 10-year-old inside me, and there's a 10-year-old inside him, and I can let my 10-year-old out to play. That's good for my mental health.

    me: Hugging you back.
    him: KISS
    me: pulling on your ear for politically-incorrect kiss behavior.
    him: lol

    He can be really insightful. And really uninsightful, when it comes time to believe what he wants to believe. He has more energy than anyone I know.

    I don't claim to be an especially good friend; I talk to him occasionally. But I'm guessing, until a few months ago, I was his only friend. Imagine trying to fight your way back to sanity, alienating everyone, and not having any friends. Yeah, you are saying to yourself, duh, of course he has no friends, it's his own fault. Right, it is. But imagine not having anyone telling you that you are smart, even though you are. No one complimenting you for anything. No one ever taking your side, or supporting you. Never. No one ever saying the simple words, "I like you." It would, pathetic to say, drive you crazy.

    He's slowly getting better, and nowadays we usually have sane conversations:

    him: I like her attitude about teacher empowerment
    me: Okay, I will stop worrying about Devos. Do we like her?
    him: we always look at the things we like about her, and not as much bad all the time
    him: because great people look for the good in people

    We all sometimes imagine our fears as real. Multiply that by ten for him, he lives with powerful irrational fear. After an almost-accident, he kept worrying about the police coming to his house. When his psychiatrist threatened to call the police -- I am not sure if that's true, he couldn't identify an actual day that happened -- he was in a panic. The stress takes a toll on his health, which is one more thing to worry him.

    I have finally learned that when he's on an angry rant, the magic words aren't "you're crazy", "you're wrong", or even "calm down." The magic words are "I like you", "we are friends", and "hugs". That -- for us -- works.

    him: this area holds a lot of shitty people with ill will towards me
    him: I'm more likely to get jumped and thrown into a mental hospital than I am to meet that girl
    him: she probably went and fucked everyone else I came into contact with

    I hope I have changed how you think of crazy people. But he's not a category, he's a whole person. He's alternately angry, playful, hopeful, anxious, worried, confused, thoughtful, deluded, and friendly. If you meet someone who is crazy, try to see them as a whole person. That's my message.
    Last edited by H.Brown; April 1st, 2017 at 11:37 PM. Reason: Taken the Italics off that had been added when I posted entry.


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