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The Bet

I’m a bit behind (in all things, really) so I haven’t had much of a chance to talk about the Bet that I’m involved in.  For a good account of how this went down, check out Catherine Ryan Hyde’s post about it here. The short version:  three other writers (Catherine, Kimberly Pauley, and Andrew Smith) and I have a bet about the Kentucky Derby.   The losers must each write a short story based on a title of the winners’ suggestion. (CRH explains it all very well.)

This came about because Stephen King had just published a short story in The Atlantic and an accompanying interview revealed that he wrote the story because he lost a bet with his son (and his son provided the title: “Herman Wouk is Still Alive”).  I mused on Twitter how fun this might be and suddenly these three wonderfully nutty people took me up on creating such a bet.

I’m the first to admit: short stories are not my milieu.  I adore reading short stories. I even dabble in writing them from time to time.  But I find them to be very difficult for how my brain works.  And I’m a bit out of practice. So I’m just a tad nervous.

Image from

Harlan Ellison used to do something called “stories under glass.” He’d set up his typewriter in a store window and, right there under the watchful eye of spectators, produce a new short story based on a premise supplied by someone else.  Once I believe he got a suggestion from Robin Williams.  The one I recall vividly is when X-Files creator Chris Carter arrived with a sealed envelope.  Inside was a card that read “The 102-year-old pregnant
corpse.”   What amazed me about Ellison was that he didn’t even stop to think about it.  He got the idea and immediately started typing.  And as he finished pages, they were taped up in the window for all to see.

No editing. No changing. No nothing.

For the record, *I* will not be doing that, should I end up writing a short story. *I* will think long and hard before I start writing. *I* will change and edit and, most likely, fret over the whole thing.  But, I will also try to enjoy working outside my level of comfort.

The horse I’ve chosen to win is called Dialed In.  Fingers crossed.


Published in: on May 5, 2011 at 9:12 am  Comments (2)  


  1. Oh, see, I’d forgotten about Harlan Ellison doing that.

    I am sorely tempted.

    There is, of course, a very good chance that my horse is going to come in dead last, seeing as how he’s having tummy troubles. So I’m pretty darn sure I’m going to be one of the ones writing a story.

  2. I love that you’re doing this. How totally excellent.

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