Miracle in four parts

In his book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield dubs all that might keep us from the work of writing Resistance.

“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t,” Pressfield writes, “and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”

Before I wrote the above two sections, I accomplished about fifteen other things today. I’ve been putting off this particular task, this thing I’m writing right now, for weeks. This morning I clipped my fingernails. I mowed the yard.

I’ve been thinking for quite a while about what I want to do with these 500 words yeah write editors Flood G and Erica M have afforded me, but the truth is: That thinking I’ve done, while somewhat productive, is only marginally helpful. Once I overcome Resistance and put my fingers to the keyboard, I don’t know what’s going to happen until the first utterances I type find their way to the screen. These utterances, these nouns and verbs and prepositional phrases, eventually become sentences. These sentences help me to find my way when I only have some vague idea of where I’m headed.

* * *

I’m writing four blog posts for yeah write, at under 500 words each, and I hope to squeeze in to these 2000 words a version of everything I know about writing. In order to do this, I’m going to discuss how I came to write a story called “Miracle.”

If you’ve read Ron Carlson’s excellent little craft book, Ron Carlson Writes a Story, you know where I’ve gotten the idea to do this. If you haven’t, and you’re someone who’s interested in writing, it is very much worth your time.

Part One

The story “Miracle” began to take shape when my brother told me one Thanksgiving morning that he had been run over by his own car. This was several years ago, at which point I’d been regularly writing short stories for about four years. As soon as my brother told me the story of how he came to be run over by his own car, I knew I would write something about it. What I did not know was what I would write.

I spent a few months with that image kicking around in my head, trying to figure out what I might attach it to, trying to figure out what the story was. I was working about sixty hours a week then, and I didn’t have much time to write. One afternoon,  though, I had a couple free hours, and I went to the coffee shop where I sometimes wrote, ordered an iced latte, and sat down to work.

Within minutes, I wrote some version of the sentence: My brother calls and says to get to the bar as fast as I can—he thinks he just died.

That sentence became a map. I looked hard at it, trying to discern where it might want to take me.

* * *


Writing for this week’s challenge? Notes from Erica M

For those of you stopping by for the first time or the first time in a long time: we have two concurrent events happening each week for the month of July—our regular weekly writing challenge for which we ask writers to submit  500 words or so toward a personal essay or traditional blog anecdote and our 2013 summer series following along with ProBlogger’s 31 days to build a better blog. Many thanks to Chad Simpson for opening this week’s challenge. Any comments left below will go directly to his email, and please keep in mind Chad has no technical knowledge of yeah write. If you have writing related questions or comments, leave them on this post. If you have technical “I’m having submission issues” questions, email us, your yeah write editors.

The yeah write invitational will open with 30 or more entries on the challenge grid and the jury prize winner comes with an award: the three books from this post

Besides being Erica M’s main blog crush since 2006, Chad Simpson has a new book “Tell Everyone I Said Hi” available on Amazon and from the University of Iowa Press. It’s a wonderful book of short stories I didn’t mean to read in one night and, once you pick up a copy, I recommend you devour it more slowly than I did. For the jury prize winner, we’ll give away one copy of Chad’s book as well as the Pressfield and Carlson books referenced in Chad’s post. Three good books for one good reader.

Odds, ends, reminders

  • Your post can be no longer than 600 words
  • Your post can be dated no earlier than Sunday, July 7, the day the yeah write #117 badges were officially posted
  • The grid is open from Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. to Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.
  • It is limited to 50 bloggers
  • Voting will take place Thursday from midnight to 10:00 p.m. US eastern
  • The winners’ post will be published at noon on Friday
  • The weekend moonshine grid will open Friday around 6 p.m. and close Monday by 12:01 a.m.
  • No self-promotional posts are allowed on the yeah write grid, including those containing links to other blog events and Internet contests
  • Combining your yeah write post with other blog events meant to maximize your exposure and minimize your effort is a no-no

Questions and comments for our guest editor below, questions and comments for yeah write editors: email us here. Yeah write #117 weekly writing challenge is open for submissions…