The Challenge

You may have noticed I haven’t written much lately. Yes, I’ve been busy, on the road a lot. But that’s not the only reason. I write in fits and spurts. Something twigs and off I go. Then nothing. For months. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. What do other people who write do for inspiration? I’ve heard it said many times that real writers write because they must. So I suppose I must accept that I’m not a real writer.

I’m reading a collection of essays right now by a real writer. Jason Stoneking is a friend of my sister. He’s American-born but lives in Paris. I met him briefly more than a dozen years ago when I was visiting my sister is the City of Light. He came barreling across the square next to the Louvre, long hair flying and looking rather wild.  He struck me as aimless and a bit of a flake, just another kid bumming around Europe. But he and my sister had clicked and have been friends for a long time now.

Jason’s latest book is called, “Audience of Twelve”. It’s a collection of sixty essays, each one suggested by one of a dozen friends. They were each asked to send him five topics or titles. Nothing more. And from that, Jason wrote lovely evocative stories. The first two I heard over the phone when my sister read them to me. They were based on her title suggestions. Who would have thought that a trip to the hardware store could generate a trip back in time that was at times funny, deeply insightful into the relationship between a father and son and ultimately bittersweet?

I tell you this first because I’m recommending Jason’s book. You won’t find it at Chapters or Indigo. You need to order it from

Second, there’s a good story behind the stories, told to me by my sister.

A few years ago, Jason and a friend were on a road trip in Europe. He was stuck. Mired in writer’s block, an affliction that apparently hits even the best writers from time to time. And regularly for those of us who dabble. He hadn’t written anything for a while and was worried he had nothing left to say. His friend told him to just write. This advice is frequently given to budding writers. Just write. Every day. Doesn’t matter what it’s about. Except it doesn’t work when nothing strikes you as worth writing about. When Jason expressed something along those lines, his friend said he’d give him titles. Those titles produced “Audience of One” in 2011. And having experienced success, this seemed an approach worth expanding. Hence, “Audience of Twelve”.

The best writing takes you somewhere. To magical places you believe you can touch. To provocative ideas that force you to think. To deep-set feelings that surprise you, delight you, sometimes destroy you. Jason’s stories take you to all those places. Read his book. You won’t regret it.

And so, with what I hope will be his approval, I am asking the small band of you who read this blog from time to time to send me some titles. Give me something to write about.

Jason’s website says he’s writing books so the rest of us don’t have to. But I’d sure like to try. And while I don’t expect my ramblings to match the work of a professional, I will do my best. I need the push. And the challenge. And maybe I’ll take you – and me – somewhere we never expected to go.


About saxbergonstuff

I'm a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a daughter, an auntie. When I'm not focusing on that, I'm an educator, facilitator and content designer. When I feel like it.
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5 Responses to The Challenge

  1. Pingback: Challenge Title #2: Three Things I don’t like about Casablanca | saxbergonstuff

  2. Ok, here’s a title for you: “Three things I didn’t like about Casablanca”

  3. Dan (aka Sweetie) says:

    How about “On wonderful husbands” I think it’ll be a best seller.

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