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.
When I began writing “Miracle,” I was teaching a more-than-full course load at two colleges, and I found myself teaching a lot of flash fictions. I taught these little stories for two reasons: 1) I could bring a handful of them to class, and we could read them out loud and begin discussing them in just minutes. 2) Because I didn’t have a lot of time to read, I’d been doing it in short bursts, often reading online literary magazines, which featured these really great very short stories.
I’d written a few very short stories over the years, but not many. When I sat down to write “Miracle,” I had no idea it was going to end up being a flash fiction. I had no idea just how much those stories I’d been reading might influence what I would write—not just in that moment, but for years to come.
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I’d begun “Miracle” the way I begin a lot of the stories I write—with an image: my brother being run over by his own car. There was an anecdote accompanying it as well: I knew the story of how this had happened, what the circumstances were, etc. In order to write the story, I had to divorce myself from the anecdote, so that I might make it my own, so that I might make it what it needed to be.
This typically happens for me when I write both fiction and nonfiction. It’s all artifice—a thing made of words—and thus requires shaping, crafting.
Sometimes, I think of myself more as a sculptor than a writer. I imagine the hunk of clay before me, which contains inside it the real and imagined of what I’m writing about, as well as the world in which the events are taking place. It contains everything, really, that I need in order to tell the story. It’s my task to give the thing its shape, allow it to stand, express itself.
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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 series
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 series. 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 14, the day the yeah write #118 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 #118 weekly writing challenge is open for submissions…