Sometimes when we are writing characters we forget how much they change, not just in the course of our stories, but in the course of their (fictional) lives.
Today, go back to last week’s story (What If by Leslie Stack) and imagine your character at the moment before everything started to go wrong, before the thing they regret and wished they could fix.
Have that younger version of your character write a letter to their future self, 10 years hence. (Your character might do this because they are given an exercise in a writing class, a leadership seminar, or it could be inspired by hitting a life milestone, a birthday or graduation, or even by reading an article like this.
What do they hope for their future self? What can you include (knowing what you know, from that earlier story) that will be bittersweet or amusing or ironic? What do they expect their life to be in 10 years?
And just to keep things interesting, like Wilfred in that link above, keep the letter to 280 words.
Julie Duffy is the founder & director of StoryADay. She writes stories and used to be famed among her far-flung friends, for writing epic letters. If you’d like to receive electronic letters from her, on the topic of writing, make sure you’re signed up at StoryADay!
Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!
7 thoughts on “Day 21- Chat to the Future by Julie Duffy”
I used last week’s story as directed and wrote an email from the character ten years in the past. Since the story was personal to me, writing the email was difficult. The email was exactly 280 words.
This was somewhat difficult and I don’t know if my character has the strength to follow this, but here it is.
May 21, Saturday 10 yrs to the Future
Davida, listen and read closely. First read this out loud to yourself in a room where you are alone. I don’t want anyone to know that I wrote this to you from the future.
Remember that you have style and that is not anyone or anything can take away from you. You also have a way of listening to people that makes them feel good and loved.
I want you to try and shield yourself from any remarks certain men make to you. I know you don’tknow these people yet,but they are your future husbands, and although you love the first more than you could ever imagine, he will hurt you. Not because he does not love you, because he truly does, but he and you are young and don’t have a handle on your feelings or how to fight. You both say hateful things to one another and don’t mean it, but words are powerful and sometimes can hurt more than a bullet or an arrow that is piercing your heart. And believe me you will feel like that many times. He was brought up in a different culture and has to show his masculinity in ways that are hurtful to you.
He will tell you later that he didn’t mean it and that is true. You both need to talk more and act less. You enjoy each other and have so much fun together.
When we are young we take everything seriously and feel the hurt of being hurt more immensely than we do as we age.
You should both go to a group where you are taught that your love and passion is what fuels your relationship and to damage that is hurt that is unimagineable.
Save as much money as you can and buy any kind of house you choose.
Davida, finish your education and help your love finish his. You will then have an even brighter future.
Have a child in your 30’s as you will both be ready to take care of your little one then. He will be a loving father and more helpful than you could ever imagine.
Just follow your heart and your mind. Pay attention to the actions of people as much as their words.
Remember that your parents love you forever and you will have the same feeling for any children you have.
I wrote 262 words. I didn’t use last week’s story. I took a character from one of my other stories and used the prompt to get more background information. He’s in college and the professor asks the class to write down where they hope to be in ten years. He writes down a list of ten items.
I wrote the letter then had the character reading it and the reaction xe had to it a bit more than ten years after first writing it. This ended up being 455 words.
This one worked out nicely for me. I got a few ideas for revising the earlier story — insights into the main character and his situation. There are lines from the letter I can work in, even though I probably wouldn’t use the device of a letter to his future self.
I am sorry, Julie. On second reading of the prompt, I find that we were asked to write the story in the form of a letter. Earlier, having followed your link, I read Wildred’s whole letter. I also found out that he selected 280 words of the letter for FutureMe. That must have made me write my story in the form of a diary entry first with the 280 words highlighted (Sorry again, I wrote 180 words in the intro of the story above.
Anyway, thanks for the link, for the StoryADay Challenge, for all your hardwork, kindness and selflessness.
Stay blessed and keep inspiring. Best wishes.
I am done with the story for the day. The letter or a part of it, containing 180 words, has been highlighted. I hope you like it.
The Ifs & Buts of Life, Part – II
On that day, some ten years back, Uchchasa, had come running up the stairs to her parents’ room, “Mom, I’ve done it. Done it, Mom! I don’t have to go to Delhi for my Master’s. I’ll do a Course in Comperative Literature from JU instead.” She was panting as she hugged Sujata from behind.
“That’s great. I never told you but I always wanted you to be a Professor of English like your Dad. If one can be such a good human by studying and teaching Literature, why can’t that one be you as well, Uchhs?”
Uchchasa smiled as Sujata Devi, turning to and facing her daughter, implanted a kiss on her forehead. She knew that her Mom would always stand by her, even if she had chosen a Course in Fashion Designing!
At around 2 in the morning when the rest of the world was in bed, being done with the day’s work, Uchchasa was at her Study Table before taking out her diary from the drawer:
I don’t know if I’ll regret this decision of mine to do my Bachelor’s in Comperative Literature from JU. Konidi helped me make up my mind unknowingly the other day when we were sitting side by side on the row of chairs outside the ICU. Her mom-in-law was lying in a critical state in there.
Konidi told me, while waiting for her doctor husband to come out, that there are 36 seats for the Course in Com. Lit. ( She should know as one of the alumni of the University.)
“I know of none who remains unemployed after her Bachelor’s in Com. Lit from JU. Most of them are either in Government Service or Central Government jobs as teachers, IAS or WBCS Officers!”
Konidi’s mom-in-law passed away the same afternoon and I saw her (Konidi’s) husband, a surgeon himself, coming out of the ICU, looking all so disheveled and broken. I realised then that Death is invincible and it will lay its icy hands on one on all even for the one with a doctor for an offspring! For a brief moment, I had a vision of Ma lying in a bed somewhere. It was her time to take leave. I knew that even if I had turned out to be one of the best surgeons in the world, I couldn’t have saved her. This foreknowledge also helped me not to have opted for MBBS.
Unknown even to my parents, I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the lives of the people around me. I’m too delicate, too fragile, too soft-hearted to be a doctor. I knew that the day Dad had a cut in his head slipping down the stairs. The sight of the blood nearly made me throw up and swoon. I was completely at loss not knowing what to do as a result! Thank God for sending Aryan to ours just then.
I also noticed a lot of similarities between him and Dad that fatal afternoon. He was so calm and composed all through as Dad had the ferocious cut stitched by Dr. Roy, who, after a close look at the bandaged head, told us not to worry as Dad was going to be alright soon. The way Dad leaned on Aryan on the way back that evening, must have helped me lean closer to him in the days to come.
Anyway, so an MBBA Course, I realised, was not for me. I am going to have a degree in Com. Lit. I might go for the Master’s after that or go for English and American Literature, God willing. I’d love to go for a B.Ed Degree later to join the teaching cadre as I’ve decided on my chosen field already.
“Some 10 years down the line, at 29, having obtained a P. Hd Degree from abroad, I’ll be back to Kol and start working as a Lecturer, teaching bright, young learners about all those Masters whose works have never let me sleep peacefully.
I’ll also chisel on my writing skills at some stage in the future, for being a writer is my final destiny. Can anyone be more impactful in the 21st century world?
It gives me the greatest happiness thinking about the day when I’ll be writing about a lot of wonderful people I have met in the course of my Life’s Journey.
Is it too much to want to do my share of work for making this world of ours the amazing paradise that it was meant to be?
Last but not the least, by my mid-twenties, say by 25 or 26, I’ll get married to Aryan. I have no doubt in mind now that he is the one for me. I want to get married in my mid-twenties because of the complications I’ve seen in some relatives due to their late marriage. Aryan and I’ll raise a family within a couple of years of our marriage. On taxing, tedious, tiring days the little one will brighten up our world to help maintain the cheer in our lives.
Being a big-mouth is easy, I know. But to achieve my life’s goals, I’ll leave no stone unturned and pat myself on the back after achieving every milestone. For that, time to time, I’ll keep sending some of my diary entries in the form of a letter to FutureMe. Be by my side, God, for I’ll never let you down….
Having bidden each of the guests ‘good-bye’, after the Shraddh Ceremony of Ma was over, Uchchasa is back in her old room. She has gone through the entry she wrote some 10 years ago with tears running down her cheeks. Tears of Love, Pride and Satisfaction. But for the P. Hd Degree from a foreign university, she nearly achieved all those goals she had chalked out a decade ago. Life, she must admit, has been extremely kind to her.
“Uchhs,” it was Aryan coming into her room. “I’ve seen to Baba being safely tucked in bed. Looking at his tear-strained face, I don’t know..I felt so sorry for him. But we’ll talk about it later. Let’s go to bed as Urmila has school tomorrow, remember?”