Writing and Editing

Instructed to write about a decisive moment in our lives that changed the direction we were originally going into a completely different one, five minutes was put onto my phone timer and my fingers began to type.
To get your mind right, first read how Robert Frost describes this moment.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The First Draft

I remember it like it was yesterday. Mid October, 2009. One mom in a marathon, three kids sending her off, and one stepfather trying to make sure we all get to the finish line before she does. She tied her shoes, like she did every single day for the past three years, her heat lined up and then the gun shot went off, acting as a green light for each of the runners.

While waiting for her to be a sweaty mess at the finish line my step dad took us to breakfast, but we never ended up eating that day. While drinking our apple juice and coffee he got a call from the hospital saying that we needed to come right away. I remember on the way there we were all joking about how she probably broke something and was going to be in a cast for our Jamaican vacation only a couple months away. That wasn’t it at all.

She had a cardiac arrest. Her heart literally went from beating to not beating in the matter of seconds and there was absolutely no reason for it. No cause or explanation…even to this day.

A lot of things run through your mind when someone tells you that your mom is on life support and that the doctors are, “doing everything they can”. No ten year old girl knows how to fully let that sink in.

Over the years I have tried to fully let all of that sink in and when thinking about the most decisive moments in my life that have changed my direction or my outlook, this story will always be at the top.

On that chilly day in October, that ten year old girl learned very quickly that life is not guaranteed and that every single moment counts.

And today, that 20 year old girl thanks God every day for knowing she needed her mom down here way more than up there.

The Process: Writing & Editing

When thinking about a moment in my life that really changed its direction there were two things that came to mind: when I moved to the U.S. and when my mother almost died.

The night before receiving this assignment I had stayed up until almost 1am talking about this exact day, the one in October, with my mom and it got me thinking about how that day changed a lot of things for me. Once I had the topic I was going to write about I put the time of five minutes onto my phone and just started to write. It came out a little sloppy and some misspelled words, but after one run through I printed it. (And that is what you see above.)

The further editing, that came after reading it aloud in class, was a matter of adding some additional sentences to set the scene for the turning point in my story.

I added…

The joking turned to panic when we arrived at the hospital and the paramedics didn’t have my mother’s name, only her running ID number. The night before we stayed up and made t-shirts with her running ID on the front so that she would see us when crossing the finish line 26.2 miles later.

We were taken into a little room, maybe the size of a standard bathroom. With white walls surrounding us, the doctors came in and began to explain that my mother was in an accident and is unresponsive.

… I think it was a good pause before revealing what happened to her, a kind of delay of information. Along with a couple other minor grammatical revisions and a couple words here and there I kept the story the same. I liked the rawness of it and the fact that it was exactly what I was feeling in that five minutes of writing.

The Final Draft

I remember it like it was yesterday. Mid-October 2009. One mom in a marathon, three kids sending her off, and one stepfather trying to make sure we all get to the finish line before she does. She tied her shoes like she did every single day for the past three years, her heat lined up and then the gun shot went off, acting as a green light for each of the runners.

While waiting for her to be a sweaty mess at the finish line my stepdad took us to breakfast, but we never ended up eating that day. While drinking our apple juice and coffee he got a call from the hospital saying that we needed to come right away. I remember on the way there we were all joking about how she probably broke something and was going to be in a cast for our Jamaican vacation only a couple months away. That wasn’t it at all.

The joking turned to panic when we arrived at the hospital and the paramedics didn’t have my mother’s name, only her running ID number. The night before we stayed up and made t-shirts with her running ID on the front so that she would see us when crossing the finish line 26.2 miles later.

We were taken into a little room, maybe the size of a standard bathroom. With white walls surrounding us, the doctors came in and began to explain that my mother was in an accident and is unresponsive.

She had a cardiac arrest. Her heart literally went from beating to not beating in a matter of seconds and there was absolutely no reason for it. No cause or explanation…even to this day.

As the four white walls started to shrink around me tears began to hit the floor.

A lot of things run through your mind when someone tells you that your mom is on life support and that the doctors are, “doing everything they can”. No ten-year-old girl knows how to fully let that sink in.

Over the years I have tried to fully let all of that sink in and when thinking about the most decisive moments in my life that have changed my direction or my outlook, this story will always be at the top.

On that chilly day in October, that ten-year-old girl learned very quickly that life is not guaranteed and that every single moment counts. She learned to forgive fast and love unconditionally.

And today, that 20-year-old girl thanks God every day for knowing she needed her mom down here way more than up there.

My Reflection

I really liked this exercise. At first I didn’t really know which one I was going to write about and then it was like the world knew I needed an outlet. I don’t really like talking about the day a lot and after my conversation with my mother the night before I really needed to let some things go. Writing has always been that release for me and for it to be literally the day after couldn’t have been more ironic timing.

The first day I wrote it and then read it after I kind of got this weird feeling in my stomach. Like wow, that really happened and if anything had gone differently I don’t think I would be the same person I am now.

As far as the writing process went, I liked the fact that we were only given five minutes to write it. I feel like the setup and outline of the story was achieved and then when the editing began was when the addition pieces of the puzzle were added. Going through and adding in the extra paragraphs really brought everything together and I think it enhanced the flow of the story.

In class reflection…

Partnered up and then told to edit someone else’s decisive moment was kind of difficult for me because I know how personal mine is. Nervous, I let my final draft be read. The feedback I received was only to add a common into one of the first paragraphs because it read a little too long. Other than that my partner said that it flowed very nicely and that entire draft was well written with emotion. I love getting positive reactions to my words and so this in class portion was nervewracking but really nice to hear.

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