I’m reading Stephen King’s latest book, 11/22/63, so I thought this addendum, on this day, would be most fitting. (Also, this week’s entry was skimpy, and I felt a need to shore that up.) The main character, Jake Epping, travels back in time in an attempt to change the past, particularly to prevent the assassination of JFK, as you might gather from the title. I haven’t read a King novel in many years, and I’d forgotten how compelling he can be when describing ordinary life. It’s a great read.
I’ve always been obsessed with small coincidences that turn into big moments, and this book has stoked that. Jake must constantly speculate on how his actions will influence the future, as in a “butterfly effect.”
In real life, such thinking, if it were front and center, would drive us crazy, but last weekend at the conference, I indulged myself for a few minutes. I was walking down Wabash Avenue with two co-presenters and friends from St. Louis. The day before, the three of us, along with Gary, presented a talk on Writers Week, urging other teachers from around the country (and even a few there from Australia and Canada!) to try hosting their own week. It’s the best week of the school year, we said. It creates a sense of community. It’s inspiring. Some of the best writers at our school are as well known as the best athletes. No kidding. We spent over an hour sharing the riches. It’s like when you know you have a good thing, that moist chocolate cake from Portillo’s for example, and you want everyone else to know it too. Here was my butterfly thought: there are young people at home right now, around the country, who will one day be changed because of something we said during our presentation. Because two or three of those teachers from a roomful of about 80 will go back to their schools and one day start their own versions of Writers Week, and students will write drafts and polish their work and take to the stage, and voices will be heard that would not have ordinarily been heard. They’ll share stories about heartache and family and best friends and what it means to be—And now I must stop thinking about this before my head starts spinning.