Damn the Rejections is the antidote to the ‘I’ll never be published’ blues. Read liberally and often. Overdose impossible.”

— Paula Berinstein
Producer and Host, The Writing Show

Chapter Three ~ A Forest Fire is Only a Fire

When you’re an author, almost of all life is about writing.

Years ago, I pictured myself as the only survivor in a plane crash, for the stupidest of reasons: I imagined my first-person account would make such a gripping tale it would sell madly, like a book touted by Oprah. Now, with more sense, I’ve decided that no stampede of buyers could possibly be worth those moments of excruciating, stark terror. . . .

So while we writers certainly don’t choose our miserable childhoods, nor do most of us seek out unbearable or life-threatening experiences (except for reporters embedded with combat troops), when they happen to us, we use them.

In his book on writing, Stephen King described at length the disaster that befell him when he was hit by a car while he was out jogging. And for years I wrote stories about the scariest event I lived
through as a child. I imagined I had a complete, rounded tale.

I was wrong.

Only a year after Allan and I moved to our new ranch, a malignant forest fire swept down from the peaks of Mount Eddy and began eating up our forest in fiery gulps.

The fire was the first truly dramatic thing that ever happened to me. I was ten and wide-eyed, soaking up impressions like a tremulous Bambi, aware of every startling detail—the way, for instance, sparks from the burning trees drifted high in the air and glowed like fireflies.

The process of squirreling away literary nuts to dig up for later use was just starting.

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