On Writing

Posted on July 1, 2009


Dear Mrs.Hinton,

My name is Andrew Aston and I am a grade 6 student living in Edmonton Alberta. I have failed grade 6 this year and if I am going to grade 7 I need to complete a short story for summer school. When I Googled “this sucks”, your website was the first on the list. Low and behold, you have a site about writing short stories. I do not believe in fate or destiny, that’s for assholes; yet I can’t help thinking you’re my chance at grade 7. Please send me a short story I can use or give me some advice.


PS Happy Canada Day

Dear Andrew,

THANK YOU FOR YOUR EMAIL. I am very happy you found my site and read some of my stories. I am wondering which one is your favorite. Myself, I am partial to “tickled pink”, but I didn’t write that one.

Your writing is very mature for a twelve year old. I am shocked you didn’t pass your language arts course. Perhaps it is an attitude thing. I know I struggled most in the classes with teachers I hated.

As for a story, I cannot give you one. Here is my advice: focus on a terrible moment in your life and replay it over and over in your head, maybe a hundred times. Let the details of the memory wash over you like scalding water. Close your eyes tightly and hold your teeth together. Sometimes this has the effect of making you cry or scream violently. Stand up and spin around a few times still holding the terrible memory in your head. Pound on your chest like an ape and breath heavily. Slam your body along the walls of the house like someone who has recently been tranquilized. Pull at your hair. When you feel as if you have been completely exhausted by this inane but pure emotional state sit down and write about whatever comes first to your mind. If you repeat this for many days and many years, you may be far from a man but you just may be a writer.

Happy Canada Day to you,


Posted in: July 2009