There’s an event worth celebrating at the Carrot Ranch this week. Two years after posting her first prompt encouraging writers to hone their writing skills by joining the 99-word flash fiction posse, Charli Mills has posted her 99th.
I’m proud to say that I’ve been there since the first, riding the range of story prompts with others who have gathered around the campfire to share stories, wise words and writing tips in response to the nurturing offered by Charli’s warm, honest and generous spirit. It is she who is the hub around which has formed a community that is welcoming, supportive and encouraging. She is the one who keeps the wheels turning, the imaginations stirring and the words flowing.
It is fitting, therefore, that her 99th challenge is to in 99 words (no more, no less) write about the idea of “just one.” If all it takes is just one, what is the story? Explore what comes to mind and go where the prompt takes you. Bonus challenge: eat cake while you write, or include cake in your flash. She is the “just one” who, week after week, writes an inspiring post, sets a thought-provoking challenge, ropes in the writers and compiles the stories into a collection as diverse as the readers. It would be interesting to know how many writers have answered every prompt. I don’t think the number would be large as even I didn’t manage to ride every muster.
I take this opportunity to congratulate Charli on her initiative. In this recent post she restates that “the original intent of Carrot Ranch as of March 5, 2014 was to create a bully-free zone where writers could learn to access creativity through problem solving (the constraint); write from a unique perspective (diversity); read and discuss the process or prompt (engagement).” There is no question that she has achieved that and more. I have met many wonderful writers, bloggers and friends through my visits to the Carrot Ranch. If you are not yet a visitor, I suggest you pop on over. You’ll be warmly welcomed.
Recently I received as a gift a book called “One: How many people does it take to make a difference?” The book is filled with many wonderful quotes, stories and suggestions; too many to share, in one post anyway. I decided to open the book to a random page and share what I found. This is it:
“If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand, extraordinary things begin to happen.” Loretta Gizartis
That’s a pretty powerful quote. The effects of Charli’s “just one” contributions are easy to see. The quote is equally applicable to teachers and the effects that they may have upon the lives of others.
It is lovely when teachers are publicly (or privately) acknowledged for the positive influence they have had upon a life. Charli did this recently when she acknowledged a high school teacher who had encouraged her to achieve more than she thought she could.
“Thanks to Mr Tahta, I became a professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, in a position once held by Issac Newton. I have spent my life attempting to unlock the mysteries of the universe. When each of us thinks about what we can do in life, chances are we can do it because of a teacher.”
Even teachers need mentors and many can name one who has made a difference to their lives. As if in response to Charli’s challenge, this week Vicki Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher, nominated “just one” personal mentor who had taught her the most about teaching. Of Maryfriend Carter, Vicki says,
“I’m grateful for her mentorship and encouragement in my life. She changed my thinking about teaching as she taught me about teaching. She single-handedly convinced me that testing doesn’t work and what does.”
But not all who teach the most important lessons in life are “professional” teachers. There is a great saying that goes something like, “When the student is ready the teacher appears.” I often say that my own children have been my best teachers. But I have also been inspired by other wonderful teachers too. I have mentioned many of them in previous posts including here, here and here.
However, my response to Charli’s flash fiction challenge aims to demonstrate that even the smallest, seemingly inconsequential, action can have a powerful effect upon the life of another. Sometimes we learn of the effects, sometimes we don’t; but when we do, the effect can be magnified. I hope it works.
The Power of One
Only much later, through a chance meeting with mutual friends, did she discover her power of one.
“I know you,” said the other, pointing her cake fork. “You’re the one.”
The old fear gripped, twisting tight. Her cake lost its appeal.
“Which one?” another asked.
“In the foyer. On the first day. You spoke to me.”
“Oh,” she reddened, shrinking to nothingness inside.
“I was so nervous. You made me feel welcome, at ease. I’ve been wanting to thank you.”
“Oh,” she lifted her fork, smiling. “You’re welcome.”
“If only you knew,” she thought. “I did it for me.”
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.