"If you can't stand up, stand out."
This man gave a presentation at my school today and it blew me away. He was shot in the chest at point-blank range and paralyzed from the waist down, condemning him to a future of life in a wheelchair at age fourteen. And yet, he played basketball Olympics. This man has survived on the outside by the help and support of his family, but he has survived inside by his always-cheerful attitude toward life. He is an inspiration.
His website: www.mikeschlappi.com/index.php
He held a writing workshop during 6th and 7th period today which I attended with my friend. Thirty kids were in that workshop when our school holds at least 2,000. Only certain kids who were serious about writing were chosen to attend by their English teachers. After a brief talk he gave us some time to write a paragraph or two of the first thing that came to our mind (a whole writer's block therapy exercise). He then allowed some volunteers to read what we'd written. I was the second to volunteer.
"The city never slept. At night it was anything but dormant. Every block, every building, every stray cat and dog, even the most civilized people who inhabited the concrete jungle were programmed to be nocturnal. Cars honked, ambulance and police sirens screamed, clubs pulsed out their energizing bass rich music. The airports, subways, freeways, parks, and supermarkets were just as busy as they were during daylight hours. The differences? Well, the air was slightly colder and the variety of usual sounds seemed to echo across the streets more ominously. One could say that the danger level rose to an all-time high when accompanied by the moon and deserted by the sun, but in fact that is not true at all. It was not the danger that arose. It was the fear within every resident of the city."
That was all I'd wrote. (Yes, I had Gotham in mind, but I let the people in the room think of N.Y.) Mike was impressed, and his astonished smile made my hearty glow with pride and guilty embarrassment. He commented on how well I can paint an image in the reader's mind. He said he seriously was picturing and hearing the city I described, and was extremely curious to find out why the fear rose at night. That made my week. He gave me a thumbs up and nodded as he rolled his wheelchair to the other side of the room. "You are a great writer! Keep it up!"
The little class clapped for me. I couldn't believe it. Was that rough little scribbled-down paragraph really that good? No way!