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The Art of Handling Rejection

I’ve ran two crowd-funding campaigns, pitched multiple books to publishers, and I’m now on a hunt for an agent. It’s safe to say, at this point of time, I’m immune to rejection. Really – it doesn’t elicit any response from me. In fact, it makes me happy – it’s a relief to encounter rejection. Because rejection is better than silence… and rejection means there’s one less reject in the duration of my quest. But, is there an art in handling rejection?

How does one define art – how does one grade the quality of art? Why are some pieces higher in value, while others are sold cheap in the market place? Why are splats of paint hanging in a gallery, while the strokes of a picturesque countryside are left in an attic? What determines art? Perspective – art is about perspective.

So back to the question: is there an art in handling rejection? Yes – perspective.

I like to look at rejection in the perspective of a job seeker. You see, when you’re looking for a job, you don’t expect a callback from every company you apply to. And for the few that invite you to an interview, there’s no guarantee they’d hire you. Even if you nail the tough questions, you might be rejected. Fortunately, you’re well aware of this. If you’re not, you’ll soon realise it’s reality – you’ll apply, you’ll receive a few calls, and you’ll be rejected. But, you’ll eventually find the one. And in the midst of the hunt – in need of survival – you have no time to think about your rejections. You move quickly to the next opportunity, because an opportunity matters more.

With this perspective, does a rejection really matter? Should you give it more than a second of your day? No, because there’s another opportunity waiting. And if you don’t seize that opportunity, you’ll never know if it’s the one.

Just like art, the art of handling rejection is about perspective. How much weight you give each ‘thanks, but no thanks’ is determined by its importance in your perception. If it is of little significance, you won’t be fazed. If you focus on the opportunities, you won’t linger in the past. So, how are you perceiving rejection? Are you giving it more time than you should? Are you letting it blear your future?

During both my crowd-funding campaigns, I was under 3 months of stress. I hustled everyone I knew. And the more I hustled, the more rejections I received. But despite being upset, I couldn’t dwell on each rejection. In order for The Battle for Oz and The Slave Prince to succeed, I needed to find someone who’d support me. I couldn’t waste time convincing those who wouldn’t, because I hadn’t convinced those who haven’t. Thankfully, despite rejection being a part of my journey, it didn’t change the fact that both my books were a success.

Having experienced waves of rejection, I know its value – it amounts to little when you’re desperate. It has no hold over your passion. And its presence will not affect the outcome. The only thing that rejection does is make you stronger – you’ll be bolder and more determined than before. And despite its negative connotation, experiencing it is a good thing.

Today, I embrace rejection. I’m unafraid of it’s daunting shadow, gladly welcoming it in my life. It has taught me to focus on my passion. It has made my dreams worth chasing. And the more opportunities I seek – the more rejections I face – the closer I’ll be to my goal. That’s my perception – my art… of handling rejection.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Is Genre Important?

I think we’ve all wondered, at some point during our creative journey, if genre is important. We question if fantasy sells better, if post-apocalyptic is hot this season, if memoirs win more awards, if our genre – the one we love and consider mastering – is worth pursuing. So, let me just clear this up today. This is a personal statement. I am in no way claiming my thoughts are based on a rule, and I’m speaking from my belief: personally, I don’t think genre is important. What brought me to this conclusion? Why – why I write.

Genre isn’t important, because I’m not trying to be the next bestseller. Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to be the next bestseller. Heck, if that’s your goal, go for it – I’ll cheer you on! But, personally, my goal isn’t to write the next hit novel. I have no plans to craft what the majority of people want to read. My goal is to write what is meaningful to me and what I think is important to share. And if I end up being a bestseller along the way, that’s a bonus! If not, it makes no difference in my authoring career. I’m still going to write what I want to write.

Genre isn’t important, because I’m also not trying to win any awards or competitions. Again, if that’s your goal, please don’t take any offense at my personal statement. I know what type of a writer I am – far from literary and a fan of simplicity. And through my past experiences, writing for awards and competitions, I’ve found myself pretending. Well, it feels like it – it feels like I’m ditching my voice and writing to suit the preference of another. And I know… that’s not me. That’s not how I write. Though there’s nothing wrong with challenging myself and writing outside of the box, I don’t enjoy doing so for the sake of winning. Personally, it doesn’t feel right. And, well, it’s just not fun – it kind of feels like work.

Genre isn’t important, because it doesn’t fit my writing goals. But of course, the same cannot be said for you. Perhaps your goal is different. Or, perhaps, you’ve yet to find your genre.

If you’ve yet to find your genre, I encourage you to try them all. Play around with bildungsroman, attempt a crime (story), and dive into satire. Don’t limit your ability to be creative just because science fiction is gaining traction, or because zombie novels are adapted into movies. Find your genre by exploring them. But more importantly, know why you write.

Steven Furtick once said that if you have a strong ‘why’, the ‘what’ doesn’t matter. What genre you’re writing doesn’t matter if your why is the force behind it. So, if you’re questioning your choice, I encourage you to uncover the reason behind your passion. If your reason is to win awards, then write to win awards. If your reason is to be the next J.K Rowling, then write to become a bestseller. If your reason is to inspire, then don’t let anyone tell you to write otherwise. And if your reason is purely for entertainment – because you love writing – then don’t be ashamed, just write!

In the big picture, genre pales in importance. Yes, it’s a facet of writing. But, it doesn’t make a masterpiece. It’s the pastel in the background – the base on your canvas. The real art are the strokes on top – the story that stands out and makes a statement. Your story holds greater value – it is your artwork and skill that sells by the millions, not your chosen base colour. So don’t focus on the genre. A good story can be written in any setting, but a bad story finds no success even under a popular label. It is what you say that matters most. And you can’t say anything substantial without a solid why.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Cuckoo | Eldritch | Serendipity

“I learned a new word today – eldritch,” I said.

“What’s that – German?” he replied, with eyes glued to the mobile device in his hand.

“No, it means sinister.”

“Oh. In German?”

“No, in English.”

“Well, it sounds German to me.”

“What do you know?” I retorted. He shrugged.

He didn’t spare me a glance, as his fingers tapped on the screen deploying troops around an enemy camp.

“You’re supposed to company me, not play your silly game,” I stated.

“Read your book or something – learn more words,” he simply replied.

“Why are you even here?” I muttered. He shrugged again.

Grunting, I reached for Homer’s opus. It wasn’t my first read – I’d completed the acclaimed author’s oeuvre a week after my arrival. But in the wake of my disease, the book now sat fragile by my bedside table. And soon enough, its spine would give way – just like mine.

“I need a new book,” I stated, as I carefully pried the cover open.

“Same book?” he asked.

“Same.”

“I’ll tell the others.”

“Great – that’s the only thing you’re good for,” I said. As his habitual response, he shrugged once more.

He was immune to my unkind observations – he simply didn’t care. In fact, he didn’t want to be here. He clocked in once a week out of obligation. And I wish, oh how I wish, I could shoo him away – sparing us both the agony. Unfortunately, neither of us had a say. It was the vote of the majority to keep me company. The others thought it was fair to share the burden – the burden of my existence. So, there he was, scheduled to linger by my side all day.

“When’s the doctor coming?” he asked. “I’m supposed to report back.”

“Soon. But the doctor isn’t going to tell you anything,” I replied.

My doctor was a gentle, middle-aged woman, who’d yet to disclose the diagnosis of my illness. I, myself, wasn’t even made privy. And truthfully, I didn’t want to know. Still, it was funny how the others insisted on knowing. Everyday they would attempt to unearth the truth, and everyday they would fail.

“Nevertheless, I have to try. The others will ask if I did,” he said.

“Then put your phone down – she’s here,” I replied.

On schedule, in white robes pressed creaseless, my doctor strolled into my room. She wore a pleasant smile – one I’m certain was genuine. Seeing as she’d arrived, my Thursday companion shoved his phone into his pocket.

“What were you playing?” my doctor asked.

“Some game,” he replied.

“What’s it called? I’d like to give it a go,” she said.

“You won’t like it.”

“How would you know? I like games.”

“So you’ve said, one too many times.”

“Don’t be rude,” I snapped. And he shrugged.

My doctor merely held her smile, as she took a seat to my right – across from him. I was glad she sat across the others. I didn’t want them to hurt her. Among them all, she was the only person who cared beyond her own intentions.

“So, how are you today?” she asked.

“I learned a new word.”

“What word?”

“Eldritch. And apparently, it isn’t German.”

“No, it’s not.” She chuckled. “I learned a new word too – serendipity.”

“You didn’t know the word ‘serendipity’?”

“I did, but not its meaning. Do you know what it means?”

“I guess – I’m not sure.”

“It defines as finding something pleasant by chance. Have you found something pleasant by chance?”

“No.”

“Would you like to find something pleasant by chance?

“The diagnosis.”

“You know I cannot tell you that.” My doctor leaned forward with an apologetic gaze.

“Why not?”

“Because the truth is scary.”

“I’m not a child, doctor.”

“But Jane is a child.”

My doctor had a point – some truths weren’t for children. Who could guess the cause of nondisclosure was Jane? Perhaps she was why we weren’t told all these years.

“Jane wouldn’t need to know.”

“Do you think she won’t find out?”

“We won’t tell her.”

“But what if the others slip up?”

“Do you plan to keep it from us forever?”

“No, I don’t. Let me speak to Jane first, and then we can move forward.”

That day wasn’t the first day my doctor asked for Jane. Unfortunately, Jane wasn’t assigned a day. My doctor never spoke to Jane, because the wide-eyed, bubbly girl, never visited me. The others claimed she was too young – that it would upset her to see me bedridden. Yet, my doctor thought otherwise.

“You can’t speak to Jane.”

“Jane is the key to recovery. You shouldn’t keep her away.”

“Jane is a child. She cannot do anything.”

“You underestimate her.”

“You don’t know Jane.”

“Tick tock, tick tock,” my doctor said.

“Huh?”

“I’m a little cuckoo clock,” she continued.

It sounded like a tease. Strangely, there was a familiarity that came with the seemingly random phrase.

“Tick tock, tick tock,” my doctor added.

“What-”

“Now I’m chiming one o’clock.”

“I don’t…”

“Cuckoo.”

As though it was a spell, my world plummeted into darkness. Someone flipped the switch in my universe – it was the rhyme. The nursery rhyme. Still, not all my senses were lost – I could hear them… for the first time.

“Doctor?”

“Yes, Jane.”

“Tell me the truth,” Jane said.

“Do you think you’re ready?” my doctor asked, in a loving, motherly manner.

“Yes. But you have to hurry.”

“Why?”

“The others don’t know I’m out.”
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Cuckoo, eldritch, and serendipity were words given by The Shameful Narcissist. As someone who’s often curious about split/multiple personality disorder, those three words were an immediate prompt. So forgive me if this one is a little dark.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. Please refrain from taking my route – it would be a bigger challenge to craft an uplifting tale. And, if you have 3 words you’d like me to string into a story, be sure to leave them in the comment section below!

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3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Why Do I Write?

I am a person of few words. Well, not in writing. But I’m a person who speaks few words. I think more than I should, and I keep most of my thoughts to myself. For me, it’s difficult to articulate my thoughts without giving them thought. Hence, often times, I just don’t say them. It isn’t something I do by choice. It is who I am. So, why do I write?

I write to share a part of me. It’s safe to say that those who read my words know me better than those I’ve spoken to – that is if you’re not within my minute, trust circle. I find it easier to express myself with literal ABCs – such is the case. And taping away at the keyboard is a peaceful, freeing, and comforting activity. Perhaps such a notion is incomprehensible for the verbal. But this is why I write: to be heard.

I am a person who lives for today. But, I’m also a person who lives for tomorrow. I worry not about my future, yet I live to leave a legacy. It’s ironic, yet it isn’t. I desire to be someone whose name lives beyond the grave. This is something I do by choice. It is fuel for my passion. So, why do I write?

I write to be an inspiration. I don’t know if my words written today, or tomorrow, would make a difference. But if I can inspire one life, I’m achieving what I’ve set out to achieve. If I can move someone to chase their dreams, I’m leaving a legacy. Perhaps not an astronomical legacy, where I’d go down in history, but this is why I write: to change lives.

I am a person with worlds in my head. These worlds home characters, with great desires for an epic journey. They want me to tell them. They need me to tell them. I cannot stifle my creativity, because it simply cannot be stifled. My mind is already crowded as it is, and clearing it is something I have to do. So, why do I write?

I write to take you on an adventure. My stories will not please everyone. They could possibly bore you. And perhaps, only a handful are worth reading. As an author, I don’t know which stories are good and which stories are bad – I cannot predict a story’s success. But when there’s a story to tell, I need to tell it. I will strife to tell it. This is why I write: to breathe life into fiction.

I am a person who is far from extraordinary. I live in a third-world country, grew up in a middle-class family, went to university for a degree, and now hold a day job like the average jane. To some, it seems like I have it all. But an impression is not reality. I’m not a prodigy. I’m not the chosen one. I’m not even sure if I have talent. And this is my actuality. So, why do I write?

I write to give hope. I am a nobody. And if I can accomplish a hint of success, so can you. If I’m allowed to dream and chase my dreams, so are you. If I am persevering, so must you. I don’t know where life would take me – just like you, I’m clueless – but I’m willing to keep honing my craft. If I can see the worth of my art, so should you. This is why I write: to insist that our dreams are important, and to prove that we can.

I am a person whose journey hasn’t ended. I have a long road ahead of me. Or perhaps, a short road – only God knows. But at where I am today, I know there is much to do and much to experience. Today isn’t the end for me. Today could just be the start. In the unknown, this much I know. So, why do I write?

I write to tell my story. As long as I’m still breathing, I hope – through my story – I’m heard, I’m inspiring, I bring forth tales of wonder, and I challenge you to keep your passion alive. I hope to share what I’ve learned, to give through my words, and to leave an account worth reading. This is why I write: to be a living testimony, and to reflect the one who called me.

So, who are you? Why do you write – why do you do what you do? We all have a reason for our passion. I’ve shared mine – what is yours?

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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3 Ways To Crush A Writer’s Block

Currently, I’m working on the second book of my trilogy. And as I’m trying my best to tie up book one and prepare for book three in this middle book, I find myself struggling to keep the story exciting. In fact, closing one adventure while prepping for another has never been this difficult. Of course, I knew writing a trilogy wasn’t going to be easy. A trilogy is a huge commitment and requires more layering than stand-alone novels. However, I didn’t expect to hit a block barely midway into the series. It’s frustrating. I’m tired. But I need to get it done! So to get past this stage, I’ve been practicing 3 things. Hopefully, these 3 things would help you too… should you be in a similar predicament. After all, stuck is the worst place any writer can be in.

#1 Vocalise Ideas

Personally, I find that voicing my ideas help me generate more ideas. The more I say them out loud, the easier it is to fix and improve them. Yes, I know how talking to myself makes me look. No, I’m not crazy. In fact, I voice my daily thoughts more frequently than I should. But off late, I’ve been internalizing my ideas. I’ve been keeping them boxed, that they’ve gone stale. Realising this, I decided to give them some fresh air – bouncing them off my room wall, behind closed doors. And lo and behold, a plot twist recently hit. So, if you’re not already monologuing, I suggest you give it a go. You never know what crazy idea would come your way, simply by acting a little mad.

#2 Dive Into Similar Works

Disclaimer: I’m not promoting plagiarism. You should never copy someone’s work. But, there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from others.

As my trilogy is about a young king, set in a medieval world of magic, I’ve been diving into similar works of its genre. I’ve been watching countless historical dramas, to grasp palace politics while exposing myself to old world architecture. Because I cannot travel back in time and work as a palace maid, it’s impossible for me to write a story based on my experience. Hence, the only way for me to gain perspective is to embrace the works of others’.

I seek to be inspired by parallel worlds – to see it play out before my eyes, and to live vicariously through works of fiction. And not only do these stories oil the gears of my own, I’m left thoroughly entertained too.

#3 Run Head First

I’ve probably mentioned this before. Wait, I believe I’ve mentioned it before. But, I’ll say it again: to get a story moving is to write it. A story cannot write itself and it needs us to finish it. So despite the herculean block, shadowing us from the finish line, we have to charge forward. We have to crush that block by writing the most horrendous chapters. Yes, you’ll need to rewrite them. And yes, you’ll want to weep at the horror of your own words. Trust me, I know. But thankfully, those words have been written – you can go back and fix them, because they’ve been written. So run head first. Charge at the wall. It’ll hurt, but the pain is worth the finish line.

As I strive to complete my book this year, I hope you endeavour to finish your own projects too. We’re all on the same boat, navigating the rough waves. But no matter what comes our way, we’re the authors of our stories and we have the power to bring them to an end. No block is too big for an author to overcome. And knowing this, there’s no stopping us.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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What To Do When No One Believes In You

Have you ever felt like the world has abandoned you?

The sudden isolation – a wave of nothingness – in a sea of hopes and dreams. Where you – a fragile yet polished porcelain – are about to tip over the edge of reality. You’re seemingly alone, and not a soul stands beside you. Those pillars of support, you’ve once leaned on, now crumble into non-existence.

What do you do?

Your dreams are in question – you’ve invested your heart and soul, yet no one seems to believe in you… anymore. Those who once cheered you on, now mum in your latest feats. Yes, you know you should believe in yourself. You know your passion will keep you going. But alone is not how you wish to continue. Alone is scary. Alone is where you fight your demons, face the dragons, and slay the beasts, without aid – without a trusted companion. You will not die in your battles, no. But you will have to make more strikes, draw more arrows, and crash in sheer exhaustion.

Where are they – the ones who’d go on this quest with you?

They are there. They have lifted their blades once, and they will lift them again for you. But not today. Because today, it’s your turn – to charge alongside another warrior in their own quest. Today is your turn to be a moral support, to cheer and raise your voices, and to stand by someone who needs your help. Today, you’re part of the infantry. Tomorrow, you lead the battle.

Often times, we’re caught in our own ambitions that our passion becomes our only focus. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Your dreams are important, and you should always go after them. But when our sight is centred on just us, our peripheral is blurred. And when we don’t see others standing in the centre with us, we start to feel alone.

In reality, we’re not alone. In reality, there are others lingering in our peripheral – chasing their own dreams. By taking our eyes off ourselves, we’ll begin to see those around us. We’ll begin to see how they’re always there for us. And we’ll begin to realise they need us too.

What do you do when no one seemingly believes in you? You believe in others.

Call it reverse psychology, or whatever you want, but the subject isn’t the other person – the subject is us. We don’t need to convince others to believe in us, because they already do. But by actively believing in others, we’re no longer alone. And don’t worry, we don’t have to give up our own pursuits to be a support. We can still run after the stars while we pace with others.

Personally, I endeavour to support those around me as best as I can. Writing this post is, somewhat, a give back to all those lovely comments I’ve received. Though I may not be able to always support financially, I’ll use my words as reinforcements. Because, as you and I both know, a little goes a long way on this road of dreams. And as much as we don’t want to walk alone, so do others.

So, let’s be a sturdy pillar to those around us. Let’s put our faith in someone’s crazy aspiration. And let’s embark this arduous journey as a team. It isn’t impossible to achieve greatness alone, but together… we make it easier.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Guitar | Bittersweet | Condescending

Bittersweet – the kind I like.

“Have a piece. It’ll calm the nerves,” she said, gently pushing the box of chocolates toward me.

I hesitated. The thin pieces, wrapped in translucent plastic, inclined along the grooves of the package. I doubted it calmed the nerves, but chocolate was a luxury these days. Still, I hesitated.

“No thank you,” I replied.

“Are you worried?” she asked. “Don’t worry. We’ll be there with you.”

She gracefully strode to my side – her long, white robe trailing behind her. Hands clasped together by her waist, she gave a pleasant smile. Unfortunately, it was devoid of my needed assurance. Yes, they would all be there – the elders, as they call themselves. But these people, with their glorified title, would be standing behind me – far from any range of fire.

“I know,” I merely replied.

“Nobody will harm you,” she added. “Remember, you’re the chosen one – the son of man. You speak the truth, and the people will listen.”

Such blasphemy. How did this happen?

All I wanted was to live. And there I was, about to give the last speech of my life. I knew the odds. In this so-called revolution, there were those who’d give their lives to save the world. Some would shed their blood to protect mine, while others would shed theirs to have mine. But I wasn’t one of them – not on the ruling end, and never on the opposition. I merely sought to preserve my life. Being the chosen one was supposed to save me – at least, that was what he said.

“You have the mark. Do you know what this means?” he asked.

“It’s a scar. I fell off my bike when I was a kid.”

“Nobody’s going to ask you how you got it. They just want to believe you exist. And you do.”

“So what, you think I should be the chosen one?”

“Hell yeah. Do you actually think you’ll survive this? When they start cutting the population, you’ll be the first to go – just saying. You have no talent, you’ve not held a job for more than a month, and you’re empty, up there,” he said, poking my head.

He was my friend, yes – a friend who was, more often than not, condescending. And as his friend, I was immune to his candid vocabulary. Sadly, little can be said about others. If only he kept his mouth shut, he would still be alive.

“Imagine what you’ll have as the chosen one. They’ll put you up in a mansion. Feed you food you cannot afford, even before all this. And you know what, I’m sure if you ask them for anything, they’ll give it to you,” he added.

“And what if they find out I’m not the chosen one? What then?”

“You die. But you’re going to die anyway,” he joked.

I thought he joked. I thought he joked about everything, until they came knocking on my door.

The day after our chat, he left in the early morning, claiming he needed to fix his guitar. I didn’t find it odd. He’d been practicing Chopin’s Marche Funebre for days – I thought it natural for the instrument to finally give way. Little did I know, he’d went ahead with a plan we never discussed.

“They’re here!” he announced, hurrying to let the devil in.

I wasn’t a religious person, but I knew to not give the devil a foothold. Instantly, as those black-suited men entered my safe haven, a wave of dread swept over me. And since then, I’ve tried to stay positive. I’ve tried to survive.

When they put me through a physical exam – scrutinizing the scar on my heel – I hoped to be excused as not-the-chosen-one. I hoped they’d see how ridiculous it was to make such vague claims about the saviour. Alas, nothing went as I imagined.

When they provided me a tutor – teaching me their crooked doctrine – I prayed they would see my incompetence. I prayed someone else would declare himself God and take my place. Alas, no one had a friend as brazen as I did.

When they prepared me to be their leader – bribing me with the splendor of my supposed calling – I wished it was all a dream. I wished to wake in my dingy bedroom, free from their unyielding grasp. Alas, reality was a harsh wake-up call.

Now at the fringe of death, made to declare my own sovereignty – of which I, myself, didn’t believe in – I wanted to live. I wanted to run. Alas, I was ushered out the door, into the velvet carpeted hallway, and up a stage set before an audience. They weren’t all friendly – I could see it in their eyes. And as I cleared my throat before the single microphone, I attempted one last time to survive.

“Please,” I said. “Help me.”

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Guitar, bittersweet, and condescending were words given by lielabigail, allowing me to write another open-ended story. Don’t you just love this kind of fiction? I joke. But I won’t lie, making readers question the end makes writing so much more fun.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. Also, if you could give me more sets of words below, we can save the world. I cannot do this writing challenge without you. So please… help me.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in Original Works

 

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