Freestyle Writing Challenge


My friend Author Erika Kind nominated me to take the Freestyle Writing Challenge. Euro-girl Erika (who lives near the place I write about below) is a ball of cosmic energy with a delightful blog site. Check it out!

Rules of the Challenge

  1. Open a blank document.
  2. Set a timer to 5 or 10 minutes, whichever length you prefer.
  3. Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!
  4. Nominate others to take the Challenge.

And drum roll, please…

…the topic Erika assigned me was…

My Best Vacation Ever

I’d had a rather half-baked conversion in my mid-20s. Not that it wasn’t real, just that it was still going on.

As a newbie college theatre professor, I’d taken a group of students to study acting in England with Patrick Stewart, Ben Kingsley, Albert Finney, and other members of the 95198389282450080-e1357375939196Royal Shakespeare Company (amazing group, eh?).

After the students flew home, I hitchhiked over to the Continent for a long-hoped-for spiritual retreat at L’Abri, the community founded by Francis Schaeffer in the Swiss Alps.

I arrived hungry to have my spiritual questions answered and discovered that the community was on its official annual housekeeping retreat—not one of the teachers, including Dr. Schaeffer, was in town!

Cranky, and quickly running out of money, I rented a mattress in a hayloft at a local pig farm (charming, eh?), and soon found a dozen other spiritual/intellectual misfits like myself from all over the world who’d arrived the same day. They were even hungrier (spiritually) and more lost than I was.

So I spent the next two nights teaching ad hoc Bible lessons around a bonfire on a Swiss mountainside, answering their questions as best I could. We argued, laughed, bonded, and worshiped sweetly but unorthodoxly until late each night.

When I took the train to Paris three days later, I felt inexplicably fulfilled. My questions hadn’t been answered.

And yet, they had.

 ⇔ ⇔ ⇔

Word count: 243

Time: 10 minutes, plus a few extra to edit (typos keep me awake at night)

And my nominees are:

Nominees (assuming you accept the Challenge): Get ready with your timer, then scroll down to see your topic.

















And your topic is…




The Book (or Books) That Changed My Life

Have fun, be brief, and dig deep (but briefly). Did I mention you should be brief?


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Memoir, Religion/Faith, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Freestyle Writing Challenge

  1. I would love to do it. However, I have just a few minutes left on my lunch break and that is waaaaayyyy too much stress to put on me after a tuna fish sandwich. You wouldn’t want me to waste a perfectly good tuna sandwich would you?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Erika Kind says:

    A ball of cosmic energy…haha!!!! You are amazing! 💐
    That was fantastic, Mitch. I am so glad you did it! That was a great read. So funny. And it shows in such a wonderful way how we are led to exactly the place we are meant to be. Not only a great story but also a great insight for us! Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. amommasview says:

    Well done. What a great experience as well!


  4. thefeatheredsleep says:

    Reblogged this on thefeatheredsleep and commented:
    Thank you Mitch. I don’t usually do these but the subject is irresistible. The books that changed my life. In ten minutes. I apologize in advance for spelling omissions.


    Books have made my life. Strange but true. As much if not more, than people have. I will leave some out I’m sure in a ten minute writing challenge but….

    Madam Bovary/ Flaubert.
    Because it encapsulated love, loss and the ugly vanity.

    As I Sat Down At Grand Central Station and Wept / Elizabeth Smart.
    Poetry in fiction. Doomed relationship and waning sanity.

    The Yellow Wallpaper/ Charlotte Perkins Gillman.
    More on madness, perhaps the most accurate.

    Bon Ami/ Monpassant
    Male friendship, climbing inside the male psyche.

    Wuthering Heights/ Emily Bronte.
    Cliches can be true. This is fantastic. Love, longing, cruelty, manipulation, horror. Loss.

    The Woman in White/ Wilkie Collins.
    True Gothic drama and a sadness in lost souls.

    Villette/ Charlotte Bronte.
    Got to return to the source. Youth as seen from deprived eyes.

    All the C.S., Lewis books both Sci Fi ( Out of the Lonely Planet) and kids ( Narnia) and non fiction ( Screwtape).

    All John Wyndams work. Especially Day of the Triffids and Village of the Dammed and Lychen.

    All Roald Dahl’s work. Adult like My Uncle Oswold, Kiss Kiss, Over to you. Children’s like Danny Champion of the World, Fantastic Mr Fox.

    Does poetry count? Then Plath, Sexton. Nuruda, Dido, Geni, Cummings, Bukowski, Childish, Morrison, et all.

    Beloved/ Toni Morrison.
    Poetry in fiction. The best book of suffering and redemption.

    Love in the Time of Cholera/ Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    I guess I’m on a love theme here, but it’s fantasmagorica at its very best.

    I Am The Cheese
    But who wrote it??? Brilliant! Conspiracy and paranoia!

    The Bloody Chamber/ Angela Carter

    Heart of Darkness/ Joseph Conrad

    Man’s Search for Meaning/ Vicktor Frankel

    Cheri and the Last of Cheri/ Collette

    Sunlight on Cold Water/ Franscious Sagan

    Carol/ Patricia Highsmith

    The Well of Loneliness/ Radcliffe Hall

    Clichéd but I loved all the Game of Thrones novels!

    Roxanna/ William Defoe

    Anna Karenina/ Tolstoy

    Women/ Post Office/ Factotum/ Charles Bukowski

    Anything by Iris Murdoch.

    I haven’t even gotten to Sci Fi!!

    The Passage/ Justin Cronin

    The Prince of Tides ( I know, I know! But it’s superbly written).

    I ran out of time!!! This is just the beginning! What about Pynchon’s Froth On a Daydream???

    Anybody who wants to do this please do. I’m not sure how to link or request I’m sorry. Thank you for the nomination. We need two lives, one for life, one to read! Spelling and errors all mine. This was timed!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Squid says:

    I love the idea of this, but might not have the time. But if I accept it will be a very weird paragraph or two!!! Hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

  6. toutparmoi says:

    This is a great challenge and a great topic, but I can’t do it on my blog because I don’t actually write it! I’m just the humble editor who struggles to transcribe the memoirs of an Elizabethan cat. Or maybe cats. I’m not yet halfway through the stack of papers that came into my hands. They are very stained, and there is a distinct whiff of Sauvignon Blanc about them. Well, I’ve known some cats who liked a lick of wine, but… I digress

    Do books change lives? Not exactly. People somehow find the right book when they know their lives need changing. What was mine? The Three Musketeers. True. I read it when I was about 11 (and therefore didn’t get the more “adult” bits) but I thought, Hey, I want to do this when I grow up. Write, I mean, not stick swords into people. That was illegal, even when I was 11.

    Cheers. 10 minutes – I’m a slow typist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Three Musketeers was a favorite of mine at about that age too! But it was the two godfather’s of sci-fi, Wells and Verne, that made me want to write (my pen name at age 12 was Jules Paris Casino ;>). So glad you chose writing (as opposed to sticking swords in people) and, of course, transcribing the memoirs of Elizabethan cats.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks, Mitch! I will certainly do this in the near future. I really like how much your site has grown in content, and versatility. You and I started around the same time, and you are definitely one of my original blogger pals. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Yes, we did launch around the same time, didn’t we? I’ve noticed how photos have become a key element on your site. Glad we’re still in touch, “old” friend! ;>)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, that’s funny how that happened re: the photos. After only a few days of doing my blog, my friend Alex (a filmmaker) suggested I add photos to my posts. I took his advice, and started using photos that I had taken over the years. Lo and behold, people really liked the images. So….I gave the masses what they wanted. haha. See you around amigo!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. johnlmalone says:

    an enjoyable post; I gravitate as my blog suggests between the Buddha and Jesus. You could do worse 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Mitch,

    Once again thank you so much for the challenge and sorry that it took me so long to actually set aside 10 minutes to do it but I have been very busy! I followed the rules and did not see the topic until I was ready to go. It was so much fun so thank you for the opportunity. Seeing what people were able to do with the challenge is amazing! I just happy that I was able to put somewhat coherent thought together in 10 minutes! Once again thank you for the challenge!!!



    Liked by 1 person

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  11. I hope that one day someone nominates m for something as wonderful as this, because it seems like so much fun~

    Liked by 1 person

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