Wednesday February 9th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's see what you come up with for: the project.

Note: I'm away on my honeymoon so this is a scheduled post.

Note the second: I'm getting very tired of typing that.


With a steady hand he hammers the final nail into place. Stepping back, he wipes the sweat from his brow and surveys the finished project.

It had taken up his weekends and evenings for the last two years, but he was certain it would all be worth it when he set her in the water for the first time. His very own boat, every inch of it.

After countless hours of work it was ready.

And all it took to undo it all later that night was a carelessly discarded cigarette and about twenty minutes.


Zhongming said...

Marc - ah, great twist but not unexpected. It feels educational so I like it :)

Greg & David - thanks for previous comments on my haikus :)

I'm gonna be away on a trip to Taiwan from 10 feb to 15 feb. So I'm gonna miss these daily prompts :(

Here's mine:

The project

People often say "Failure is the mother of success" and Jack with his positive business mindset continues to work on his fish business but for the tenth times.

When people asked him what is your projected goal in five years or in future, he couldn't provide any securing answers which is good enough for these investors to even consider.

Everything else changes immediately when Jack offers fifty-fifty partnership with them. Which means they're gonna get their cut as much as fifthy percent no matter how good or bad the state of income or profit.

Just when everyone is counting on it, all the fishes died. And poor Jack is mumbling away positively for the eleventh times "Failure is the mother of success".

Heather said...

Zhongming- This is a great little story! I love how it came full circle.... and I hope things work out for Jack.

Joanna loved the way her days flowed, but she knew they would come to an end sooner than later. Her children wouldn't always want her hovering near. They would move on; first into school and eventually into adulthood. The thought both saddened and excited her. She made the process of preparing herself for that inevitability her personal project.

For the first year, she considered what her current skills were and how those combined with the new ones learned in the sanctity of her home could carry her into a new career. The second year, she explored what each new direction would entail and widdled her choices down. The third year, she looked into ways to further strengthen her ability to do something that pleased her-- the things future employers would want, like additional education and experience. The fourth year she went back to school to learn Spanish. She also began to volunteer. Both would help in whichever direction she decided to go in the next short two years.

It was while tutoring one of her younger students that she stumbled across her first true obstacle. All of her classes had not, could not, prepare her to use the knowledge fluently in real world applications. Playing a math game with a child, she used her hard learned language skills to tell the boy he was silly. "Nino tonto," she said playfully.

The child's eyes grew round. The smile faltered, disappeared, and then grew larger than before. "You said a bad word to me!" He wasn't offended. He was over joyed that a teacher would make such a mistake.

She smiled, sure she had said nothing wrong. She'd used the phrase with her own children and several other students without an issue. "Nino tonto! No dije una palabra mala."

The child laughed again. "Si! Dos vezes ahora. Two times."

Joanna broke down and switched to hre more comfortable native tongue. "I said you were a silly boy... nino tonto."

"No, you said a bad word. It's a bad word." He was more serious, but clearly still bemused.

She could not argue with him. She didn't have enough of a grasp of the language. She knew her school books defined tonto as silly. She knew the translator she occasionally accessed used tonto as silly. She really didn't believe she was wrong. Nor did she dare to directly ask a young child to define a potential "bad" word. "Voy a preguntar tu maestra la significa de la palabra despues terminamos la leccion." Yes. That is exactly what she would do. She would just ask his teacher what the word really meant after the lesson.

And she did. "I know it is sometimes taught as silly, but culturally, it means stupid or dumb." Joanna wanted to cry. She wondered how many children she had unknowingly called stupid. Worse still, because she was working with children that struggled with school the most, she wondered how many students truly believed she thought they were stupid.

That night, Joanna thought about the project she had started. She wondered if she had made the right choice. If perhaps, she should reconsider the direction she was headed. She wondered, as she fell asleep, if the whole idea of learning another language was tonto.

David said...

@zhongming - have a good trip.

I'll get to my writing tomorrow, but for now need to give a plug. I return to blogging tomorrow, joining a site with a bi-weekly column -- it's classic movie reviews. If interested, take a look at - my review will be posted Thursday morning EST.

gada said...

The Project

Fingers flashed over the keyboard as Will put the finishing touches to his presentation, the one that would get him a raise, so he could move out of the dump he was staying in. With a sigh, he stopped. Leaning back in his rickety chair, his mind wandered, thinking of all the things he would change...apartment, car, maybe even get a girlfriend...
All it took was an instant. The chair shifted back an inch further, and in that moment of powerless horror, in a panic, Will grabbed the only thing within reach, his laptop.
It didn't change the fact that he was falling.
It just meant he took it with him to the floor.

Greg said...

@zhongming: I'd not heard the phrase "failure is the mother of success" before, but I like it, and what you did with it. I shall keep it alongside "necessity is the mother of invention" as useful phrases to remember!

@heather: wow, that's a powerful little story! I hope Joanna realises that everyone has setbacks like this sometimes, and that it's just a learning experience :)
A question: did you mean "widdled" in the second paragraph? It might be a Britishism, but to me that means urination....

@David: good luck with the film review blog!

@gada: ouch; an object lesson in why you should never take your mind off the goal! Elegantly written, and the ending is introduced well without being obvious.

@marc: and another ouch! Everyone seems to have written about projects that have little snags or sharp teeth to catch the unwary out - and I blame you for starting it :-P
It's very nicely presented, and the throwaway last line neatly underscores the effort you made in the previous paragraphs.

The project
Well, my project for the last week and a half (two weeks actually, I'm writing this on Saturday) has been to offer constructive criticism on people's writing while Marc's been away. I hope it's been a success, but I forgot to work out what my criterion for judging that would be before I started! It's certainly been interesting, as I've had to be more organised about accessing the site so as not to be too early and to make sure I've got time to both read and write. Whether or not anyone else has liked it, I think it's been good for me.

Marc said...

Zhongming - I hope you had a great trip!

Great piece today, I thought it flowed together very nicely.

Heather - great use of the idea of things being lost in translation. I like how you concluded with the word that was the source of all that trouble.

David - very cool! I'll have to check that out :)

Gada - I could imagine that scene perfectly. Great job :)

Greg - yeah, sometimes you guys just follow my lead. I'm very... um, influential like that :P

Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to do that while I was away. I'm sure everyone appreciated your feedback and I'm grateful for it as well.

And I'm glad to see that it benefited you as well :)