MR Writers Club Prompt: A Time You Went (Way) Off Track
09.01.17

Have you heard of the Man Repeller Writers Club? Every month we pose a story idea, you write about it and then send it to us (write@manrepeller.com) with the subject line “MR Writers Club.” We go through all submissions and post the winner on the first Saturday of every month. Ready? Let’s go.


In 2013, I lived in San Francisco and spent most of my time weighing the importance of “passion work” while watching makeup tutorials online. I knew I should have been writing more, designing more or sitting in the park more, but a heady mixture of laziness and a fear of failure ran through my body like a sedative. On my couch I sat, YouTube open, eyes glazed.

I was way off-track.

“I just wish I could meet Chelsea,” I whined to my roommate about my favorite YouTuber. “I swear we’d be friends in real life.” It was the exact brand of passiveness that defined my life at the time. A few months later, however, I stumbled upon serendipity I didn’t deserve. I was riding an escalator at the mall when I realized, with astonishment, that just above me stood Chelsea. I immediately introduced myself, we started talking on the stairs, we kept talking on the platform, then we exchanged numbers and kept talking over text, too. After never speaking so much as a word to each other online, we were instant IRL friends.

Over the next two years, a lot changed. I won’t bore you with the in-betweens, but one of the catalysts was helping Chelsea with her budding small business, Anomie: I went to New York for a buying trip where I was introduced to Carlye, who’d written for Man Repeller and who, a year later, introduced me to Amelia and Leandra when I asked real nicely.

So maybe I’d been right about me and Chelsea back in 2013, but mostly I got lucky. When I reflect back on how the hell I got to New York and into a job and life I love in a deep-gut way, I can’t help but recall how an undeniable seed in this modest little bloom was an unhealthy, wholly unproductive obsession with makeup tutorials that I never even tried on my own face. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, getting off the track you think you need to be on can accidentally lead you somewhere better.

For this month’s Writers Club prompt, tell us about a time you accidentally got off track, but in doing so stumbled onto the right one, and send your story to write@manrepeller.com (in 500 words or less) by Tuesday, October 3rd at 12 p.m. EST with the subject line “MR Writers Club.”

Photo by Paulo Fridman/Corbis via Getty Images.

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  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    chelsea is my fav youtuber. she makes 15 minute long videos of her digging through her trash, which you’d think would be boring but they’re actually incredible.

  • Haley, I am sure we’d be friends IRL, too. Anyway, that’s what I’d love to happen: BRB, need to find an escalator …

    (Love this story)

  • Mekalah Loxley

    Jeez Haley! Wish you’d never mentioned Chelsea- I have just felt it necessary to watch an hour of her and now I’m totally hooked. I need my life back. It’s Friday night and I’m meant to be partying in an hour! Not even close to getting ready. Oh well, I’ll just have to rock my no-bra and a pair of PJ bottoms look, complete with Courtney Love- chipped nails!

  • Avani Thakkar

    Hi! Is there a word limit for this? 🙂

    • Anna Pepperspray

      Hey Avani, it usually is 500 words.

      • Avani Thakkar

        Thank you!