“Dear Santa, this year I would like to get a CHALLENGE for Christmas!”
While most grandparents would be really surprised reading this on their grandchildren’s list of Christmas wishes, Ted Hartley, CEO of Radio-Keith-Orpheum, was not. He immediately replied to his grandson, Morgan Hartley: “I want you to write a book: you’ve got only 2.5 years to do it, a publisher must give you $3,000, and you have to sell 5,000 copies”.
No sooner said than done. Morgan Hartley and his good friend Chris Walker, two young journalists, decided to go on a 22-month travel across Eurasia – from Paris to Shanghai.
This extraordinary trip arose our attention. Being students of IFA, we participate in an MBA program which begins and ends in the same destinations. While we will travel from Paris to Shanghai by plane, the two journalists chose the bicycle as their main transportation. That way they get to know 22 different countries and can also fulfill their sub-goals to dicover the places in between and to learn the craft of storytelling.
But how about their big goals – writing the first book and finding the perfect story? What makes a perfect story and where can you find it? Is this possible or rather ambitious?
The first word that comes to mind is naïve. How is one to find the perfect story upon a first glance? Perfection is often perceived in retrospection – just ask Ted Hartley or your own grandfather about the past, nostalgia will have him believe it was perfect. The thought of finding one perfect story in their journey is like looking at seams rather than looking at the whole garment. The lived experiences, the people, the feelings evoked, the path travelled, all that in the end will make the perfect story.
For us, reading a book about all the adventures, landscapes, fears and conquests Hartley and Walker have experienced, is the perfect story. One that puts us in their shoes, and in the end, we too, will have cycled from Paris to Shanghai and made their 22 months, ours. But this story might be perfect for us and not for you. It depends on the reader’s perspective. So this year each one of us can write PERFECT STORY on our list of Christmas wishes and we will all receive a different present.
By Bárbara Menéndez and Charleen Horn