Today, January 3, I, Amira K. Makansi, am 25 years old. A quarter of a century. When I was born the Berlin Wall was still around, the Internet hadn’t been ‘invented’, and ‘smartphone was a nonsensical word. Now I’m twenty-five, thinking about history and wondering where I will be in another twenty-five years. Birthdays are a great time to reflect on where we’ve come and where we’re going, and after an adventurous year as a twenty-four year old, I have a lot to reflect on.
I’d like to ask my blog followers and readers for a birthday present. It’s easy, and maybe fun: I’d like you to tell me what you think about this snippet I wrote a year and a half ago and recently rediscovered in a file on my computer. I read it again and thought it had potential. So, my dearest readers, for my birthday, I’d love it if you’d give me the best present of all: feedback. Positive or negative, funny or serious, just tell me what you think.
I have a history with suicides.
When I was three, I attempted the first time. A year later, my second, and not five months after that I tried again. Then my mother cried so much that I stopped for a few years and didn’t try again until I was eleven. When you’re a child, you easily forgive yourself your mistakes, so I forgave myself for my failures and tried again. Thirteen. Fifteen. And now I’m sixteen and trying a new one—a powerful one. I’ve doused myself in gasoline and I’m ready to light the match.
They’re all the same. Every time I try, I fail. I don’t know why. When I was three I tried to drown myself but I stayed underwater for so long without dying that my dad was able to jump into the pool and ‘rescue’ me. The next time I jumped off a bridge, but the fall didn’t so much as break my bones. Maybe I just didn’t pick a high enough starting point, I thought foolishly, childishly. That’s why I tried again so soon after. I snuck up to the roof of my mother’s office building—forty stories up, so they said—and jumped. At least I bled that time.
This time will be different, I tell myself. Surely even I won’t be able to escape the flames.
Because this time, the stakes are higher. This time, I have proof that they exist. And I need to kill myself before they kill me.
As you can see, there are a lot of directions I could go with this. It could be young adult paranormal fiction. It could be about psychological derangement, insanity. It could be a Victorian-style horror. It could be dark, otherworldly fantasy. It could be science-fiction. There are so many options, and I don’t know what I want to do with it. I don’t even know whether the protagonist is male or female. I don’t know what his or her name is. All I know is that I’m interested, and if you are too, I want to bring this snippet to life.
If there’s interest in it, I’d like to embark on a new foray in publishing: A reader-driven narration. If enough people are willing to join me on this journey, I’m going to turn this snippet into a blog serial. With the help of my readers, I’ll create the story. Once a week I’ll publish a new installment. They will always be free. After each installment, you can offer suggestions about which direction the story should go. What happens next? What are the characters’ names? What world is this set in? Who is the villain? What do the monsters look like? There are hundreds of questions that beg answers, and I need your help.
Of course, if you think it sucks, be honest. I won’t write it if there’s no potential. But if there is, then we have a story on our hands.
So leave a comment and tell me what you think! Here are the questions I need answered, for starters: Would you keep reading? Is the protagonist male or female? He or she doesn’t have to have a name yet, but if you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them. What is he or she so afraid of? And if we think of this as the prologue, what is the first chapter? A friend who kindly read the snippet suggested that I need to explain the protagonist’s first suicide attempt. After all, a three-year-old child attempting to kill him or herself is a disturbing concept, and it begs explanation. I thought maybe that could be the first chapter. Or not. I don’t know. Thoughts?
Thanks for helping to make my 25th birthday awesome!