Writing and Ruminating

Thoughts on writing, reading, and poetry. With the occasional diversion, bien sûr.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

All In by Benjamin Percy - another commitment post

I have a confession to make. Within Word, I have a folder labelled "Other People's Writing." It holds things like favorite short stories written by Tessa Gratton, stories people have asked me to critique (so I can find them), and things that really spoke to me found from a variety of places. Some of them are poems, some of them are blog posts, and some of them are articles.

And thus it was that I remembered I had a piece stashed in that folder that discussed the idea of commitment, maybe slightly differently than my last two posts. I won't post the whole article here, since you can go straight to Glimmer Train and read it yourself, but it's a piece called "All In" by Benjamin Percy. Here's brief excerpt.

I used to be the same way, nervously rationing out my ideas.

Tony Early (the author of Jim the Boy) cured me of that. Years ago, I was talking to him about his story, one of my favorite stories, "The Prophet from Jupiter." He said that he put everything he had into it. "I was tired of holding back," he said. His stories up to that point, he felt, had been good. But he wanted to write something truly great, an earth-shaker. So he put every last drop of himself, all of his best material, into a single story.

And it worked. "Prophet" appeared in Harper's, scored a National Magazine Award, and to this day is widely taught and anthologized.

There was a price. After he finished the story, he lay on the couch feeling emptied, carved-out, certain he would never write anything again. This lasted for two weeks. And then the well filled back up.

I encourage you all to read the full article.


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