A note about the assignment:
The class is with Joshua Henkin. He directs the MFA program at Brooklyn College, and right before coming to the Wesleyan Writer’s Conference, I bought his book Matrimony. Glancing over the opening pages, it looks promising.
The first sentence of the piece below isn’t mine. We were given eight first sentences (some of which Josh says he made up and some of which he took from stories) and we were told to evaluate them and then choose one of them and try an opening.
Here are the two paragraphs I wrote in response to the prompt:
My daughter Josie said she’d found God in New Mexico. Said she met Jesus after drinking some Ayahuasca. I looked the concoction up on the internet, and I’ll tell you this: I can’t see how my Josie met any God I ever believed in. As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing is just another excuse to get blown out of your gord on drugs, that’s what it is. She was supposed to be down in Santa Fe teaching drama to middle school students. She was supposed to be staying under her aunt’s supervision. What a crock.
My wife’s sister hasn’t got an ounce of work ethic or discipline on her little hippy body. From what I can tell, she mostly sits around listening to The Dead while she dabs paint on a canvas. Now Josie says she isn’t coming back up here to French Lick, but that’s where she’s wrong. She’s only nineteen and there’s no way my little girl is going to go down that path, not if there’s anything I can do about it. I’m going down there to get her, and I’m leaving first thing in the morning.
I think I usually resist writing exercises, but the possible conflict between the father and daughter could be interesting to explore via a story or novel.