Fighting for Democracy in the Bagel Shop

My assignment: An article on the Development of Democracy covering ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and the years surrounding the Revolutionary War in the U.S.

Length: 1400 words

First draft delivery date: Four weeks

I commandeer my usual table at the Fifth Street Bagel Shop and set to work.  I start with the ancient Greeks to whom I’ve alloted 600 words.  Those crafty Greeks slip in 200 extra words when I’m not looking.  I beat them back, sentence by sentence.  They retaliate, hurling historical events at me that absolutely need to be included.  I am no match for them.  I withstand the assault, do a word count, and move on to the Romans…

…who have only been allotted 200 words.  The Romans object to this injustice.  More words!  they cry.  More words!  I remind them that I am the writer, that I am in charge, that I will give them whatever number of words I choose.  This throws them into a rage and they begin to bellow:  We are the mighty Roman Empire!  We will conquer you!.  The noise is deafening.  I know the people sipping coffee all around me are only pretending not to hear.  I feel suddenly small, unable to rise to this task of describing over two millennia of democratic development in a mere 1400 words.  From somewhere, I find courage, slice through the extra verbiage the Romans have demanded, and move on the the colonials.

I am hoping they will be easier to deal with, these countrymen of mine.  Surely they will cooperate and not demand more than 600 words.  Surely they will understand the constraints I am under.  They do not.  They are worse than the Greeks, worse than the Romans.  They throw a torrent of words at me and insist they not will put up with a paltry 600.   They did not give in to the British and they will not give in to me.  I can feel myself growing battle-weary but I find it in me to mount a final assault.  I push back the colonials, one word at a time.  And I am finished.

This is what I have learned from the writing of this article:  Democracy was hard won.  I know this for sure as I gather up my research materials and wonder if I have enough strength to make it out to my car.