A couple of years ago I was busy procrastinating. I had an assignment to write an essay on the topic “In Your Dreams”. I sat at my desk, staring at my stacks of magazines, piles of pebbles, paperclips and postcards. I reorganized my pencil jar. What was I was dreaming about? A pair of tall, supple, rust-colored leather Frye boots. Frivolous, I know.

This particular pair of boots I longed for didn’t seem worthy of an essay, but I thought that maybe, just maybe, other people dreamed of shoes in more worthy ways. So I sent an email survey to my friends and I asked them: Has a pair of shoes ever changed your life? Can you recall an important moment in your life and remember the shoes you were wearing? If you could walk in someone else’s shoes, whose would you choose? I hoped that one or two of the answers to these questions would give me something to write about.

Within a few days my inbox was full of stories. There were funny stories and serious ones, stories that were revealing of character and personality and stories that simply and beautifully captured a moment in time. These stories, I thought, demanded their own project. Here it is.

Oh, and the Fryes… When I finished writing my essay, which had nothing to do with shoes, I ran down to Nordstrom and bought the boots. I wore them to the gala and they held me tall and steady while I read to an intimidatingly large crowd. They made me confident, comfortable and a remarkably better writer.

Margot Kahn (Editor) is the author of Horses That Buck: The Story of Champion Bronc Rider Bill Smith, winner of the 2009 High Plains Book Award. Her work recently appeared in the collection Night Lights: Stories and Essays by 22 Northwest Authors and is forthcoming in the anthologies What to Read in the Rain 2012 and YOU: An Anthology of Essays in the Second Person. She has worked professionally as an obituary writer, junk mail proofreader, political speechwriter and creative writing teacher. www.margotkahn.com

Greg Stump (Illustrator) is a longtime contributor to The Stranger and a former writer and editor for The Comics Journal. His work in comics includes the weekly strip Dwarf Attack and the comic book series Urban Hipster. In 2010 he was named “Illustrator of the Year” by Cartoonists Northwest. He teaches comics and cartooning through a variety of Seattle-area schools and organizations, including Writers in the Schools, Coyote Central, Gage Academy of Art and Seattle University.