24 hours, 365 words

Opportunity knocks at odd hours — like Saturday night at 10:56 p.m. A guy I’d worked with in my three years of interning at a TV station had retweeted an SOS from something called the3six5 project.

“Need a backup author for today. If you’re interested/available, please email ASAP!”

I was qualified, but I’m sick right now, run down from heavy triathlon training and early mornings in the past week. My finger was on my laptop’s power button. A 20-minute-old post on Twitter is ancient, petrified-tree-stump news. I dashed off an email not expecting a response.

Five minutes was my cutoff.

My photo of a Union Station clock in Washington, D.C.

Only needed three.

They’d be happy to have me fill in. Okay, I thought, I need a story I can pair with one of my photos, the story has to relate to the last 24 hours, and I’m restricted to 365 words. And I’m ready to go to sleep.

The editors said I could send the post in the morning, but I wanted to remain true to the project’s goal. One post per day. I had to write it.

With a few false starts and dead-ends in the span of one hour, I knocked out 365 words and edited the copy. The result is a flash-nonfiction, journal-style entry of Saturday, February 11, 2012. A day in my life as 1/365th of a larger collective story.

Only today did I figure out what kind of opportunity I’d scooped. The website was nominated for a Webby, and last year, the editors collected more than 5,000 applications for the year’s slots.

Next on the list, I want to compete in a 48-hour film competition.

Footnote: Why is Opportunity always knocking? Can it not whisper or tap lightly on the shoulder? How about slip a note or leave a message or text? Merely thoughts.

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