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Live a Story. Then Write It Well.

Kellen GorbettThis guest post is written by Kellen Gorbett. Kellen is a journalist and world traveller. He writes at kellengorbett.com. Check it out.

One of my favorite pastimes is discovering real-life situations that, if seen in a fiction story, I would find totally unbelievable.

Mount Kilimanjaro

The view from Mount Kilimanjaro. Photo by Stig Nygaard

When I come across these gems as a person, I’m forced to stand back at the hilarity and wonder of life. When I come across them as a writer, however, I’m forced to wonder if there are enough real-life stories that are so fantastic, we would not buy into them if they were made up. And if this is true, shouldn’t we writers be a part of these stories to tell them?

Stranger than Fiction

I most often recognize scenarios like these in ridiculous situations and with strange people. Recently, I attended a New Year’s Eve wedding. At the reception, while everyone was on the floor dancing to ‘Shout’, I was trapped in a corner with one of the bride’s strange cousins. I was without an exit strategy and deep in a one-sided conversation. The wedding was in a nice barn in the woods of Tennessee. This, naturally, fueled a conversation about Sasquatch.

One thing led to another, and soon I was hearing about UFO’s over dance music, and that if we are alone, the universe sure seems like an awful waste of space – a quote I recognized from the mid-1990s movie, Contact. The conversation ended when he listed off the other things he’s suspicious about. “Nessie and Banshee, Mermaids and Dwarves and Tasmanian Devils,” he said. “I think there’s a good chance they’re all real.” I walked away before the conversation could get to bears, beets and Battlestar Galactica.

A Near-Life Experience

While the comedic side to this concept is very entertaining, there’s another side I’ve been thinking about. It’s to do with our world view, whether fantastic or monotonous, and it’s to do with the notion of how writers write and how writers live.

Just from the perspective of a storyteller, I sometimes wonder if fiction is, well, an unnecessary endeavor. Before you burn me at the stake, or worse, never read another word of my writing, know that I love fiction. Of course I love fiction; it’s the beauty of creation. Life out of nothing. All I mean is this – Is there a story playing out right now, so epic, heart-wrenching and heroic, it could be the greatest ever written, if there was someone to write it?

British playwright, novelist, short story writer and the man George Orwell referred to as his biggest influence, Somerset Maugham, believed in the drama of life. “Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it is more telling,” he said. “To know that a thing actually happened gives it a poignancy, touches a chord which  a piece of acknowledged fiction misses.”

As writers, we owe it to our audience to live fully. There’s something about sitting at our desk and not making it past the refrigerator while writing tales of great journeys and adventures that just seems wrong. It feels like cheating.

Ernest Hemingway is one of the most discussed and debated writers of the 21st century. While much of his writing was undoubtedly influential, the names of other, greater writers do not live on like the name Hemingway. He lives on in legend and lore because he wasn’t just writing his story. He was doing his story. Fishing in Cuba (To Have and Have Not) and hunting in the Serengeti (Snows of Kilimanjaro), the Spanish rebels (A Farewell to Arms) and the artists of Paris (The Sun Also Rises), he lived out a story that most could only dream.

Here are three ways to live a story worthy life.

1. Live Relationally

People are simply the most interesting subject we have to write. Behaviors, cultures, opinions, reactions, personalities, worldviews, and communication, there are several books worth of stories concealed in the life of just one man.

A writer is an observer, an investigator. The more lives you’re allowed into, the more options you’ll have for characters, and the deeper your relationships are, the more complex and real these characters will be. And the more relationships you touch, the better your life will be.

2. Travel the World

A writer can have an incredible concept for a storyline, but without a good backdrop, the plot will suffer. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, and can write stories all day about mud-kickin’ cowboys and guitar playing southern belles, but if I never left Nashville, my subjects would be limited to this.

It would be ill-advised for me to write an adventure on freeing human trafficking victims in Southeast Asia, a romance novel in Paris, or a drama about tango dancers in Argentina, if the only thing I knew about those cultures is what I heard about second hand.

3. Live More than You Write

Your writing is your craft, your hobby, your release, and your skill. Confusing your writing with your identity will, in the end, cause your craft to suffer, and it will not bode well for your life, either. Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at your typewriter and bleed.” Sure, I get that. But, honestly, that doesn’t sound too enjoyable, and while his writing was great, his life didn’t end especially great.

So live out a story, and then write it well. If, tomorrow, the Greatest Story were to come and go without ever being heard, ever being written or told, sure seems like an awful waste of space.

How about you? How do you think you live a good story?

PRACTICE

Write about the greatest story in your life. Focus on the rich details you have the benefit of knowing from actually doing the story. Write for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to comment on a few practices by other readers.

Happy Writing!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

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  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    Kellen, that was one of the most compelling pieces on writing I’ve read in a long time, it resonated! I’m on my iPhone at the moment, but I’m looking forward to practicing when I get home! I’ve been writing less and living more and now I’m looking for a balance!

    • Kellen

      wow, thanks so much for the kind words!

  • K.Downing

    Enjoyable post, sir. While I respect and commend the general message you’ve opined here, I feel I must point out an error — small…minute, really. You mention the Spanish rebels in relation to Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” when you certainly must have meant “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” The Novel you mentioned is set in Italy during the first World War and was distilled from Hemingway’s adventures as an Ambulance driver. As I said, not a huge mistake, but one worth pointing out so that you can correct it. Otherwise, a very wonderful piece. As Thoreau opined, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

    ~ K.Downing

    • Kellen

      ah you’re absolutely right, thanks for the correction! Love the quote as well

  • C Hope Clark

    Excellent post. And so true. My current release, Lowcountry Bribe, is based upon an actual bribe situation I found myself in years ago. Living a moment can infuse so much into your fiction. People think I’ve led this hugely unique life, but in actuality, if we pay attention to the details, to the reactions, to the people, we find so many great stories to spin off from . . . making our writing so rich.

    Enjoyed this and it reminded me of my focus.

    C. Hope Clark
    www,chopeclark.com
    http://www.fundsforwriters.com

  • Katherin Smith

    Great post! And while traveling widely or experiencing hugely significant or life-altering situations may be an exciting way to find stories, paying attention to the people and situations right where you are can be wonderful sources of inspiration.

    • Kellen

      definitely agree! Like I said, I believe there are several novels worth of stories in just one persons life. We have to find it in others, and believe it about ourselves.

  • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

    Great post, Kellen.

  • http://www.pjreece.ca/blog/wordpress/category/blog PJ Reece

    Kellen… good stuff! This digital age seems tailor made to keep us sitting on our asses. The writers I admire had that itch to Live!: from Melville to Henry Miller to Kazantzakis and, of course, Hemingway, of whom you were perhaps a little dismissive, I suppose because he stuffed a shotgun in his mouth to end the suffering. Regarding his “bleeding” on the page, I don’t think he was seeking “enjoyable”, but rather “meaning”. Let’s not be bamboozled by that “pursuit of happiness” nonsense. Our resident wise man on this blog–Viktor Frankl–went to great pains to point out that happiness is a byproduct of meaning. And recent studies show that those people who report the most satisfying lives value meaning over happiness. I guess meaning comes to us largely through suffering, and it turns out to be a greater reward. Anyway, I found your piece delightfully ALIVE! Keep it up. Cheers.

    • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

      You make an excellent point about meaning. People seek out a lot of happiness in life, but really we when we find meaning in life–whether the every day mundanity or the adventures of life, that is when we find the most happiness.

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      I really like that – meaning over happiness…

  • Rebecca Klempner

    Like C. Hope Clark (whose site I love, BTW) I base a lot of my fiction on either memories of real events or even old journal entries about them.

    However, I don’t think you have to travel the world, as Kellen suggests, for your writing to be interesting or exciting. If you (using Ms. Clark’s words) “pay attention to the details, to the reactions, to the people” you will have reams of fodder for either fiction or non-fiction. What my readers have most reacted to weren’t settings, but the realistic characters and their relationships. Human beings are human beings in L.A., Timbuktu, or even on another (fictional) planet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dam.busch Adam Smusch

    Living a story is exactly what I’m doing right now. I’ve been roadtripping up and down the California coast by myself, visiting friends and making new ones as I go. Stopping in random coffee shops to “bleed” my fictionalized experiences feels just as rewarding as living them!

  • Jeff Ellis

    It is 3 AM on Friday and he is still awake. More than awake, he is still hungry and still dripping with his own tears. Earlier this week, someone had visited him, but he can’t remember if it was on Wednesday, or early yesterday afternoon, or this morning, or if they had called to say they would be visiting tomorrow. He knows he should eat, but that requires an energy he does not have.

    As all of the great melodramas, his is a story of a broken heart. That first broken heart that brings the winter of youth. For a week, or a month, or a day, he has been staring at the wall across from his couch, weeping without sound. It will not dawn on him until years later that he broke up with her. Today, he is the victim of his own stubborn inability to trust in anyone. The clock above his TV reads 4:00 AM in giant black letters.

    He has to sleep. He has to do something other than sit and stare at the wall, but for some reason he can’t find his mind. A horse galloping up cobblestone streets, the mania charges from his gut to his brain and explodes there in a low groan that becomes a scream. Everything is “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” and nothing breakable is safe. He doesn’t know if he is screaming because she is gone or because he let himself be broken, or if it’s because he can no longer understand anything about his life.

    In the cold blue hue of 5 AM, he is in his car, driving toward the freeway. The road is a scimitar’s edge, rising into the bend and then descending out. On the downhill he catches speed and wonders what would happen if he didn’t stop; if he just kept going straight into the giant oak at the mouth of the next turn. It looms, and he has not taken his foot off of the accelerator.

    “Is there anything better for me?” he thinks and before he passes the point of no return, he turns the wheel. His car roars off of the pavement into the dirt, shaking loose more tears he didn’t know he had. Long gone is any breath he hoped to breathe and in the shaking adrenaline of what-could-have been he is a fish flopped ashore and gaping for air. The sun rises on one more day and one more chance to not go back to the couch. To not go back to the somber apartment. One more chance to stop all of this melancholy and drive on.

    • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

      I had to read this twice, it was so good. You really conveyed the anger and hurt one experiences in breaking up.

      • Jeff Ellis

        Thank you Giulia, I know a great many of us have been there and it was good to get it off my chest :)

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      whoa, great description of the desperation of heart break. I love the last paragraph and the chance to move on.

      • Jeff Ellis

        Thanks Kate, I wanted to end it on a happy note, as life’s struggles sometimes do.

    • Cathy Ryan

      Poor guy. You’ve portrayed the despair very well and that great hopeless empty feeling. Nice job.

      • Jeff Ellis

        Thanks Cathy! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    A steady stream coursed my cheeks and fell from my chin, blurring the black and white image of a boy, shoved, stick limbed, into a metal crib. The grainy image twisted and turned my insides, as trembling fingers stroked the thin face on my computer screen. “Send me,” I whispered into the darkness, “I’ll go, just send me.”

    Serbia, where was that exactly? I had to pull up google maps. I knew her old name, Yugoslovia. And not much else. The faces of little humans, needy in institutions they would never leave, called me. Haunted me. Before long I was propelled on a journey I could never have dreamed and hadn’t specifically sought.

    Eight months, and a roller coaster of triumphs and discouragements later the soles of my shoes touched foreign land. If I could have wished myself home in those first moments I would have. Like walking from a time machine into another world every sense was assaulted.

    But I stayed. The sights and sounds got under my skin. The people burned into my mind, our stories weaving together, dancing through time and distance. Just like love locks cling to the bridge over the Danube river, Novi Sad has locked herself to my heart. She got in my blood and my pulse beats, “Serbia, Serbia, Serbia.”

    I replay the first time I met Gordana, zany, passionate, quick witted, generous, Gordana, and marvel at the birth of a friendship in the matter of seconds. Sitting over Nescafe and sewing words together to form a mutual story, suddenly every barrier became a canvas of beauty for us to color and delight in.

    The mental institution, and reason for my going, surprised me most of all. Certainly it’s walls hold people who suffer. I saw sights there I can’t, or am unwilling, to paint with my words. A holy place too tender to tread upon, where human souls flicker and hold fast dancing between worlds. But that isn’t the whole story.

    I didn’t find the boy in the video on my computer who had first called me with his eyes to a country so unknown. But I did find his brothers and sisters. And in his honor I held hands and stroked heads and sang songs to men and women the size of sick figure adolescents and children the size of toddlers.

    Malnourishment, boredom, and loneliness are the constant companion of the fifty bent and broken bodies on the top floor. Impaired mentally and physically, living entire lives in a crib, unseen except by a handful of people.

    But I found something else on that floor that surprised me. Love. In the form of a nurse who sings and uses gentle hands. Who cries over her patients because she knows it’s not enough. Laughter bore witness to that love as it burst unexpected from Petra at the sight of her nurse, Lubitza.

    Six hundred people cared for in that place. All variety of needs represented. Some have good lives; friendship, freedom, purpose. Many don’t. All of value, every one. The men and women who serve, weary, with not enough hands to go around, matter too.

    Leaving that country of beauty, poverty, history, good food, harsh reality, kind welcome, and fabulous architecture was as hard as arriving. “I’ll be back,” I whispered as her face slipped away under the wings of the plane. “Ill be back,” as much a benediction as a promise.

    • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

      Powerful writing.

      • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

        Thank you, Giulia!

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      Wow….beautiful writing Beck. I love your descriptions, there are some very strong images in there.

    • Cathy Ryan

      So compelling! “…living entire lives in a crib, unseen…” That line really touched me. How hard it must have been to leave.

  • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

    My practice:

    She had not expected
    this. The glorious peaks of the Rocky mountains, majestic and breath taking,
    those vistas she had expected. Of course, they had proved greater than
    imagination’s conception, far too vast and glorious to be captured by words or
    photographs. Even as she had snapped photo after photo of those magnificent
    summits, she knew she would be bringing home with her a pale representation of
    the mountains. Not even in memory would she ever full recall their beauty.

    But
    this…this badland carved out of the earth from glaciers so long ago, so hot and
    stark, so silent and raw, this she had not expected. The land seemed dead and
    barren, and yet there were signs warning of black widow spiders, scorpions and
    rattle snakes. Do not over turn rocks, they read. If you hear the low rattling
    hiss of a snake, allow it to get away from you. Seek medical attention
    immediately if you believe you have been bitten. It was surreal. That was the
    only way to describe the landscape before her. The odd, and yet lovely hoodoos,
    the rippling waves in the landscapes where nothing but small cactus like plants
    grew. Each formation was similar, but each was unique. The sun beat down hot
    and bright, and the heat was reflected back by the desert land. Sweat pooled
    under her breasts, trickled down her back. And yet she walked on. Clambered up
    the rolling land and once the land flattened out a bit again, new formations
    loomed before her, crumbling hoodoos to her left, more smooth, rolling mounds
    to her right. She could spend all day here, just wondering at the marvel of
    nature.

    • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

      I liked the contrast between the landscapes you painted. I wouldn’t have believed the variety of the west if I hadn’t seen it myself.

      • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

        I know, I was in awe when I saw the badlands. Thanks for the feedback!

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      It sounds wonderful! I’d like to go there some time!

      • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

        Thanks! It was an amazing experience.

    • Cathy Ryan

      Very vivid! I like the specific details you use: black widow spiders (not just spiders) scorpions, rattle snakes, that help me understand the setting. “…stark, so silent and raw…” Nice word choices. Your own amazed reaction to the sight is telling as well.

      • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

        Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • Kellen

      Amazing description, I was with you the whole way! The only suggestion I have is keep finding balance in long, descriptive sentences and simple sentences. The first paragraph was a little overwhelming with the stretch of consecutive long sentences, but you pulled in back in with the second half. Great job… I wanna go!

      • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

        Kellen, thanks for pointing out that balance. I wasn’t even aware of it until you mentioned it. I just wrote. Good thing to be aware of though! And I think everyone should go to Alberta, it’s beautiful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yvette.carol Yvette Carol

    I agree with other commenters here, that this post was invigorating. When I was about 20 years old and had finished work on my new novel, City Girl, I showed it proudly to my mentor who was well into her 60′s. She said while she thought it was good, her advice was ‘to go out and live first, and then write’. At the time, I was still at the age where I thought I knew best. Yet now, nearly 30 years later, I understand the wisdom of her advice! Very similar to your advice to me today, Kellen. It’s still just as golden today as it was then, only now I have ears to hear. However, I’d like to echo PJ’s point, because I had the same thought when I read your take on the ‘sit down and bleed’ quote. There’s a similar quote too out there, not sure who by, that says ‘writing is easy you just sit down and open a vein’. Yet, it is of course a metaphor; words that serve the same function as poetry–they allude to something greater than the word– the transmogrification that occurs when the ink on the page comes from some place deeper than the mind, only then does the writing turn into something more than the sum of its parts…

    • Kellen

      Yes! Love the insight, thanks. “When the ink on the page comes from some place deeper than the mind, only then…” Love that. The true challenge for all writers!

  • Li

    We stood on the threshold of an orange pit deep enough to see hell. As I slid down the dry red earth rose up all around me like hot ash. It tangled my hair and stifled my breath. The sliding took long enough for me to consider whether I might ever hit ground. When I did the others were casually smoking cigarettes and talking.
    I grabbed a clump of earth and let it fall like sand between my fingers. I had never seen dirt this color that hadn’t been kissed by the evening sun. The others seemed to take for granted this setting as much as they would a dismal street end.
    I took off my shoes. My feet were calloused and stained. I discovered the dirt could be coaxed to retain its shape with a little patience and pressure. It made me wonder about other planets and what other mysteries this one offered. Their teenage mumbling grew quiet as I forged primitive shapes and lined them up like dolls in a row.
    All at once I felt driveling heaps of rain pour onto my head, all from straight above me. The threat didn’t occur to me until I saw them scrabbling to gain footing up the dune. I followed unhesitatingly, but it took mere moments for the pit to fill with water. A yellow orange soup boiled below me as I fought my way up the silky clay. The older children tried to reach me but I was beyond their grasp. They may have called to me but I heard nothing save the boiling. Every time I drove my five year old hands through the silt it melted beneath me.
    I looked up only feel my raw eyes being pelted by rain. I squeezed my lids closed and pretended there were hands to hold on to, but only for a moment. The hands were made of clay and extended my time only slightly. The stew was up to my waist. I accepted my fate, yet continued to drive my hands even further up and into the clay until I felt the hand then quickly grabbed for another. Finally, there were no more hands, just slippery grass, and I opened my eyes to see their feet before me, glad at their aloof presence, and of the earth, wet and rooted, unshifting. Their faces still shrouded in falling rain.

    • Cathy Ryan

      Holy cow, this was a frightening episode! The distant behavior of the teens toward the five year old, her absorption in her own play are portrayed well. I identified with her before the rain began. Good use of details. Nice job.

      • Li

        I appreciate the compliment. It’s plain to see I have much to learn from the other writers here.

    • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

      Great practice! I like how you describe the water in the put as a yellow orange soup.

    • Kellen

      Great job Li – I love the way you use short, powerful sentences to hold the readers suspense. You’re definitely getting control of your writing, keep at it!

  • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

    This is a piece about my youngest daughter. Its not the most descriptive piece I have ever written, but I hope it is enjoyable to read anyway.

    I sat in the village hall with all the other proud parents, on
    hard plastic chairs, watching two little girls singing on their own. They were
    a comical sight really – one small and round, one tall and lean, wearing their
    black Stage School t-shirts and leggings. They were singing ‘Rolling in the
    Deep’ by Adele, their voices loud but shaking slightly, not able to disguise
    the nerves they were obviously feeling.

    I had salty warm tears pouring down my face. I felt kind of
    embarrassed because no-one else was crying as much as I was, but one of those
    little girls was my youngest daughter. Two years previously she would never
    have done anything like this. Two years previously she wouldn’t have even
    wanted to sit in the front row of the audience – “I don’t want anyone looking
    at me!” she used to say.

    My daughter has Dyslexia. And yes, it’s not a life
    threatening condition or an illness where one has to have treatment or
    medication, but for her it is a huge stigma. Especially in a family where her
    mother and older sister eat books and love to write. She just wanted to be like
    everyone else.

    It took quite a long battle with the school to get them to
    recognise she was having problems. I realised when she was in year 2 that
    things were not quite right, but her Barbie-doll of a teacher just told us my
    daughter had some mild difficulties that didn’t require any extra help and she’d
    soon catch up. My daughter hated school that year. Her friends were all reading
    and writing. She thought she was ‘stupid’. Her worst experiences were when they
    were expected to read aloud to a group of class mates. You can imagine how humiliating
    it must have been for her to have to stand there in front of her peers and not
    be able to make sense of the words on the page.

    My daughter is stunningly beautiful. Yes, I know what you
    are thinking – I’m biased, I would think that, but we get comments about this all
    the time from friends, acquaintances and people we have just met. “She could be
    a model!” they say. I tell her this all the time, but she can’t see it. She has
    other qualities too – such determination! If she decides she is going to do
    something, then she is going to do it, come what may. Her sister is two years
    older, but my youngest daughter was the first to ride a bike without
    stabilisers, the first to learn to swim. I’ll never forget the first time she
    swam under water. It was in the middle of a hot summer, and they were in the
    little outdoor pool at the school. I was stood watching on the side, wishing I
    could be in the cool water with all the children. My daughter’s best friend wanted to show me what she had
    learned on holiday, and ducked under the surface of the pool, and then my
    daughter, not to be outdone said “I can do it too!” and flung herself down. My
    heart was in my mouth, I thought she was going to drown, but seconds later up
    she popped, a huge grin on her face, and then she did it again and again. There
    was no stopping her from that moment on.

    Year 3 was when we finally had a breakthrough at school. She
    had a wonderful teacher that year, one of the best I have ever met. A large,
    solidly built rugby player of a man, loud and enthusiastic and great fun. He
    had a knack for bringing out the best in his pupils, and was always very
    encouraging. We told him of our concerns and a few weeks later he came back to
    us with an apology. “Yes, you are right, she does have dyslexia,” he told us, “we
    are going to put in some extra support for her.”

    Her confidence soared that year. Suddenly she was asking for
    speaking parts in school plays and telling us she wanted to join the Stage
    School her sister attends on Sunday mornings.

    Two years later there we were, watching her singing and
    dancing and acting in front of an audience and loving it. I’ve never been so
    proud.

    • Steve Stretton

      A lovely piece, I especially like the way it ends at the beginning. Your love of your daughter shines through.

      • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

        Thanks Steve!

    • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

      Great piece! I like your descriptions of the teachers, I could really picture them in my mind.

      • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

        Thank you!

    • Cathy Ryan

      There are few things more painful for a parent than to witness your child being misunderstood. You convey your pain in this situation so well. I agree with Giulia; the descriptions of the teachers are vivid. Nice job.

      • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

        thanks very much!

    • Mike Cairns

      hey Kate
      This was a great piece, really easy to read and flowing and very touching.
      I thought the small touches of description were perfect, enough to draw pictures without disrupting the narrative.
      thanks

      • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

        Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Steve Stretton

    I remember looking up. The other car was directly in front of me, heading toward me. I remember thinking, “How did I get on the wrong side? How could this happen?” Instinctively I looked to my right, to reassure myself I was on the correct side. I was. Then we must have hit. I don’t remember the impact but I remember the utter stillness afterward. I remember looking to my left and seeing Bob, my front seat passenger lying half out of the vehicle, his legs still in the door way. I think I vaguely remember hearing the sound of the engine racing in the back. The other car was imbedded in mine.

    I don’t know how long we sat there, it was a country highway with not much traffic. Then there were people about. Someone opened my driver’s side door and held me upright. Another came and I remember him pressing my chest together. I remember the pain in my hip (I later learned it had a fracture dislocation.). Yet strangely I didn’t feel anything from my broken sternum or ribs. I know it was about an hour before the ambulance arrived. In the meantime someone had managed to switch off the engine from the back. I recall trying to myself but being unable to get my hand to the key.

    Finally I remember the smell of spilt fuel from the split fuel tank in the front. Someone had suggested cutting me out with an oxy torch. Mercifully he was persuaded this was not a good idea.

    So I’m still here, with a bent sternum and the memory still fresh after forty odd years.

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      Oh my goodness, how scary! Sounds like you are pretty lucky to be alive. I used to work as a nurse in a busy Accident and Emergency unit, and we dealt with lots of trauma from RTAs. I can picture it only too well. Ouch. the thought of having your chest pressed together is making me cringe!

      • Steve Stretton

        Thanks Kate, it was particularly scary when I smelt the spilt fuel. It was the tow truck driver who fixed my chest. Yes, I’m lucky to be alive.

    • Li

      I like how you chose to end this piece. I often wonder at scars etc., they are beautiful and fascinating. I also enjoyed your mentioning the oxen torch, a terrifying “what if”.

    • Cathy Ryan

      Wow, Steve, this is so vivid. I felt real concern for you as I was reading, especially when the torch was mentioned. I like the use of specific details ( “…his legs still in the door way”) that bring this piece to life. Well done!

    • Kellen

      “Another came and I remember him pressing my chest together.” Steve, I love this because I can’t even imagine what that would look or feel like, but it’s a terrifying sentence. Knowing it actually occurred, whew. Great job

  • Mike Cairns

    Hi Kellen.
    I really enjoyed this post, a nice change from focusing on the technique all the time.
    I thought it asked some important questions in a good way and has produced some touching and evocative comments
    thanks
    Mike

  • http://daphyin-makeupisart.blogspot.com Daphnee Kwong Waye

    That’s a great post! This reminds me of the realism concept when you just write what you see, what you live. Life is a story, although it’s more unpredictable and unstable, with no peculiar patterns… which make it even more interesting!

  • Yourm

    Awesome, thanks for a sense of clarification. Time for me to put a few real life things down on the computer or paper.

    He poured more alcohol on the wound. Damn that was a relief. It just felt so good to bypass doctors and that whole business. The pain was pure in the fact that he knew he was doing right. He then thought of the times he heard his Father say something to the effect of: and doctor who does surgery on himself has an idiot for a patient. But that was okay. It was not like he was using anything like surgical tools anyway.