When I was a senior in high school in 1987, my English class read Of Mice and Men and then we discussed it and had to write about it. I didn't actually read it all back then (I've since read it and taught it about a dozen times and I love it) but I tried to complete the assignment. One of the writing options was to rewrite the ending which is the one I selected. Now I was kind of an asshole back then and I liked to push (right past) the boundaries of good taste so my remix had George and Lennie in a torrid love affair. I described their sexual encounters in vivid detail and ended it with them both being killed by Curly while they made love under the sun. I thought it was absolutely the funniest thing ever written. I loved that class. The teacher was amazing (and part of the reason I teach English), the students were brilliant, (some went to college at Julliard, Yale, Stanford, Duke, etc...), and the class encouraged discourse and academic freedom. Therefore I was seriously so excited to share my incredibly hilarious rewrite. I'd told a couple of my friends about it and they were excited to hear it (In hindsight, they were probably excited to see my impending flameout). Anyway, the day came and it was my turn to read my work. It was roughly 5,500 words of handwritten flatulence. I remember starting in and getting to a funny part and nobody laughed. I was shocked but I pushed on. I got to another homo-erotic scene and again, there was no laughter, only silence. I powered through anyway. For 25 incredibly long and torturous minutes, When I finished, there was complete silence for about ten seconds until one girl finally said, "That was seriously awful. Why would you do that?" I was so humiliated. Word got out that day to other students about my story and other kids wanted to kill me. I was "... such a dick." and "... a total asshole homophobe." I couldn't even argue. I just wanted it to go away and it eventually did. I took a whole lot of crap for that misguided story but what I remember most is that people didn't like my writing and that's what really hurt me. At that time in my life what I wanted to become was a writer. I wanted to go to college to major in journalism or creative writing and have writing be my life's endeavor. But I couldn't take the criticism so I changed my mind and went with teaching. I don't regret it at all. In fact, teaching feels like a calling to be honest. But I still wonder how my life would have been different if I didn't write and share that stupid story.
Birds in Fall (excerpt) by Brad Kessler
See? This is such good writing. I could never do this. This is about two strangers who meet on a flight and have a conversation as their plane slowly crashes. And it's beautiful.
Story: 10 of 10
The author creates this urgency in the scene yet the two people, an ornithologist and classical cellist, try to remain calm and distract themselves by having a normal conversation. Meanwhile, everything is falling apart around them. It's an awesome juxtaposition.
Teachability: 9 of 10
The writing alone is worth teaching. It's impressive and I think higher-level students might really enjoy the read. There are plenty of things the author does which deserve analysis too, such as juxtaposition, dialogue, rising tension, etc... This is a nice piece of writing.