I was challenged to rewrite my story, A Fortune too Late, making it only 1,000 words long. Without counting this introduction, the story is 996 words long. Please tell me what you think of the two different versions if you can.

“You are a hard and earnest worker,” my dad read aloud, placing his uneaten fortune cookie on his plate. He’s never been fond of the small Chinese desserts.

After my dad had read his fortune, my mom and my brother soon followed. “What’s yours say, Noelle?”

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “I’m too full to eat it right now.” Not thinking much of the small fortune, I placed my cookie into my jeans pocket and followed my family out the door of Happy Panda.

I needed to get home quickly to finish the art project that I had been working on. All that month, I had dedicated every waking minute of my life to finishing my art projects and I still had one more to complete. For my project, I had brought in a small fox, a marble with a rabbit on it, a maroon quill pen, and Playstation2 controller and was assigned to morph the collage five different times with colored pencils. With only a week left to work on the project, I brought it home every night and worked on it from the moment I got home to the moment I went to bed.

Now, as I returned home from Happy Panda, the one treat I had gotten that entire week, I trudged down the stairs to my room and walked over to the small foldout table that I had temporarily set up in front of the television in my room. I flicked on my TV and waited for the Gilmore Girls main menu to come up before setting to work with my colored pencils spread out across the table and my reference pictures to my left.

I worked through the entire weekend, determined to finish my art project, although running across some difficulties when my pencil lines smudged away, forcing me to stop coloring and redraw, my colored pencils withered away until they were unusable, and my blending sticks were just about gone. I was working with the last of my materials, but I had to finish, and I needed to complete my project.

With only ten minutes left before I had to go to bed on Sunday, I proudly held out my canvas before me and smiled with pride. I had finished! Glancing down to the inch-long pieces of wood that used to be my colored pencils, I thought over how much work I had put into this piece. I couldn’t wait to get to school the next day and show my art teacher.

The next day, the time had come when I handed Mr. Stein the piece that I had put so much effort into. “Hmm…” he said. “I really like this, but the background doesn’t do it justice.”

“So, I’m not finished with it?” I asked, not hearing what I wanted to hear.

“Well, I don’t know. You can turn it in, but I really don’t like that background. I think that you can do better. Let’s ask Mrs. Hansen, and see what she thinks.”

I followed my teacher out the classroom to ask the other art teacher what she thought. After Mr. Stein handed her my piece, she looked it over a bit and exclaimed, “Ooh, that is so beautiful. This definitely needs to be in the Art Show next year.”

“What do you think of the background Mrs. Hansen, don’t you think it could be better?”

“Well yes, I think that this background doesn’t quite look as well done as the other parts.”

“I think it looks a bit rushed,” Mr. Stein stated before returning it to me and telling me to put as much work into the background as I had with the emphasis. Leaving the art room disappointed, dragging my work behind me, I went through the rest of my school day upset, until I found myself in front of Gilmore Girls again. The spirit seemed to have left me, but the determination had not. I worked on the background for another six hours, hoping that my work would meet Mr. Stein’s standards the next day. The piece was due tomorrow and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if he didn’t like it. Too nervous to sleep, I thought over my next day, dreading it to the point of making myself sick to the stomach.

Once again I waited within the stairwell after lunch. This time, I sat in a corner and studied my work intently. I had spent all the time I had on it, even staying up until 3:00 in the morning two nights, and I was hoping that it was enough. Once Mr. Stein opened the classroom, I entered with my head hung low, still looking for any flaws in my piece.

“All right, if you’ve finished your piece, come up and show me before you turn it in,” Mr. Stein called out. Once again, I was walking towards my teacher with my artwork grasped in my hands, hoping that he would accept my hard work. I handed it to him, allowing him to look it over. “Well it’s better…All right, turn it in right over there,” he said pointing to the Turn-In pile. “Oh and can I put this in the Governor’s Show next year?”

“Sure,” I said with a slight smile knowing that I was finished with the hard work and that I had turned it in on time, giving me an “A” in Art class. With a slight sigh, I gave my piece a final glance before placing it in the Turn-In pile. I was finished!

Through the rest of the day, I felt relieved that I had finished my art, and was proud with the outcome. After school, I found myself sitting at my computer before my desk. I sighed and stretched when I spotted the fortune cookie that I had placed next to my computer four days ago. I snatched it up and popped the bag open before cracking the cookie open and reading my fortune.

“Don’t take life so seriously.”

4 replies
  1. Mr. G
    Mr. G says:

    Stephen King says, in his great book On Writing, that every time you finish writing a piece, you should cut 10%. We always write more than we need to.

  2. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    I loved that book, Mr. G. Once you remembered to bring it to school 😀
    Noelle, I loved both versions of the story. I suppose the shorter version did get straighter to the point and still kept the funny moral.
    I still think you’re stalking me 🙂


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