Brave Writer spotlight: Douglas Henningsen

Hardcover book gutter and pagesImage by Horia Varlan

From Brave Writer mom, Kellie:

Hi Julie – I had to share what my almost 14 year old son [Douglas] wrote for the first assignment in the Help for High School curriculum. I had my co-op class do this assignment in class and gave them about 12 minutes as we were a little crunched on time. I wanted a list of random words to do with the topic he chose, “reading a novel” but he came up with the following instead and to me it’s beautiful and poetic. He is now going to do the second stage of this assignment and write a paragraph using your instructions but I told him we are going to keep the list “as is” so he’ll have two completed works as I find this to be so unique.

Reading at night
Warmth, comfort, pillow against my back.
Book waits.
Read the cover
Open book
Excited
Anticipation
Book opens to me
Swallows me whole
The scene flashes in my eyes
Characters are struggling
Heart pounding
Emotional
trying to help
in the story
nervous
scared
relieved
everything on the tip of a knife
the knife is flying at your face
keep reading
love
pain
heartache when its over
but it’s not
get next book
open the cover
start again
reading more than once
picturing the scenes
the video keeps playing
the rollercoaster starts
we start the incline
its building up
reading on
clock hits 10:00
keep on reading
the final scene
tears in my eye
white knuckles clutch the book
sweat on my brow
I don’t want it to end
Why does it have to end
Clock hits 11:00
Someone dies
Pain in my heart
The pain of her brother
The same pain is mine
Sorrow fills my heart
The page rustles
The smooth paper flips by
Suffering
The fight goes on
I can feel it
In my heart
Tears fill my eyes
But its ok
I can keep going
11:30
I close the book
Its over
I read the back
I put it down and close my eyes
And there it is
I can see it again
In my head
But this time I know how it ends
This time I wont be scared
This time its ok
Then it starts again
I visit it in my dreams
I drop out of consciousness
And open the cover.

[Below] is the second part of the assignment. I’m not sure he learned how to write an anecdote as it’s several paragraphs. But I like the paper. Smile Kellie

The Crying Book
by Douglas Henningsen

Open the book. Three simple words strung together, that’s what they are. But under them is a deeper meaning. These three words speak of a gateway to a whirlwind of emotion, adventure, heartache and satisfaction. And that is exactly the gateway I am going to fall through tonight. I climb the ladder to my bunk and sink down into the multitude of blankets and pillows I keep up there. I plump a pillow and lean back on it, pulling the blanket over my legs. There it sits, the long awaited book, nestled on my lap, calling for me to open it up. Well, don’t mind if I do. I rub my hands together and pick up the hardcover novel. I read the cover, savoring the moment, and then I open it to the first page.

The chapter begins, and with it the movie. The book swallows me whole and poof, there I am, right in the story. I walk around the characters as the chapter runs to a close, then follow them as another starts. Excitement blossoms in my chest and anticipation clutches at my heart. The characters are struggling, I try to help, but they can’t hear me. My heart pounds, emotion floods my senses. I’m nervous and scared. Everything is balanced on the edge of a knife, and that knife is flying straight for my face. I keep reading. Love and pain speed by me, spreading their fingers and brushing delicately over my heart, spreading their emotions before they are gone. It’s over, but it’s not. I reach behind me and pull out the next book. I glance at the clock, 9:30, before plunging back into a world I so desperately want to survive.

The video starts again. The climax of the book is coming, the story that was woven through so many books is about to end. Everything hangs in the balance. The clock hits 10:00, but I keep reading. The final scene, the great story is almost over. My white knuckles clutch the book, making nervous indentations on the paper. Then someone dies. With tears in my eyes I flip the page; it’s not supposed to end this way. I can feel her brother’s pain; it burns my heart, the same heart that has been tossed aboard a fragile dory in a wild sea of emotion. I can’t take much more. Sorrow invades my heart cloaking it in a dark shadow of sadness. The smooth paper flips by my face, wiping a tear away from my eye, I keep reading.

The fight rages on, the battle of good and evil, I can feel the rage of war in my heart, my poor, battered heart. It’s over. Good has triumphed, evil is defeated. A tear runs down my face as I close the book, falling onto the hard back. The tear trickles to the edge of the back, and it almost looks like the book is crying with me. I go to wipe the tear away but my hand stops before it touches the back, then I pull it back to my side. I leave the tear to dry, a glistening trail of water that tells of the emotion packed inside of the cover. I look at the clock, 11:00, time for bed. I reverently lay the book down, and turn off my light. I lie back against my pillow, and close my eyes.

There it is, the book, it’s still with me, playing over and over in my head. But this time it’s ok. This time I know how it ends. This time I don’t have to be afraid. This time the pain doesn’t dig as deep. I drop out of consciousness, and open the cover.

One Response to “Brave Writer spotlight: Douglas Henningsen”

  1. Arlene Hankowski says:

    I loved both assignments. The writer’s voice was so clear. His love for the written word was so complete. It made my emotions come forth as I remembered some of my favorite books! EXCELLENT JOB!