Monday, March 4, 2019

Iron Pen 2019

The Iron Pen twenty-four-hour rapid writing contest for 2019 is history. The entries are in and awaiting judgement within the three major categories: poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. My judgement, however, doesn’t need to be tallied. I totally froze up on the prompt. Which has left me wondering what happened?

In 2010 I came through with a win when the prompt was about broken bones. I eked out a win with the quote from Bird by Bird a couple of years later. I’ve always managed an entry of some kind for every other year. My best guess at this point is that some time ago I stopped flexing my writing muscles. I let my skills go lax along with my blog. The main exceptions were a few stints on my next novel. 

Missing out on this year’s Iron Pen was a shame. Especially once I found out this year’s prompt was from a short story by Roxane Gay. Some Iron Penners don’t like knowing anything about the origin of the chosen prompt. But I do. Even if I don’t use that information for my work. I just like having the background. (Sadly, my Google search couldn’t find it for me.)

I read Gay’s Difficult Women for a book club last fall and enjoyed the variety in her short stories. What I liked most about The Dissection of the Human Heart was its similarity to Bullet in the Brain, a short story by Tobias Wolff. I was so impressed with that one I’ve remembered it decades later. Gay’s story does indeed use the anatomical sections of a human heart as repositories for memories and emotions, while Wolff’s story uses the path of the bullet to excite synapses for a single memory while bypassing a host of other possible last thoughts. Gay’s piece offers the perfect feminine counterpoint to the masculine viewpoint of Wolff’s Andre, the protagonist whose snarky attitude led to his demise.

I haven’t been one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I guess, as late as this may be, it is time to make one. Starting now: MORE WRITING.

If only my Fitbit would count words as well as steps.


  1. I would suggest one word for every ten steps. If you stay in shape you'll produce three or four novels a year!

  2. An excellent idea. I think the steps should come first so they will create a daily goal.