Carving a Pumpkin is like Writing a Book or a Short Story

Just one more article on fall before we jump into Thanksgiving and Christmas. This one is by by Julie Canfield, a CWI Volunteer.


You’ve got to love fall. The cool temperatures, shorter days, colorful leaves, football, and little kids in costumes.

Carving a pumpkin is so much like writing. Think about it. Before we can carve a pumpkin, we have to pick one. We go to the patch and look at hundreds until we find the perfect one. We take it home, study it, and painstakingly draw the face in pencil. Satisfied with the sketch, we cut the top and scoop out the insides. Next, we carve the face and place a lighted candle inside.

Now think about writing a book or a story. We sit down, ready to write, full of ideas. At last, we choose one. We decide what genre and length we want, and unleash the words, like sketching a face on a pumpkin. Satisfied, we take the next step in editing, which is akin to cutting the lid on the pumpkin. It’s time to scoop it out, inspect it, and scoop some more. At last, we’re ready to polish (carve the face) and submit (light the candle, which scares away the evil spirit of writer’s block).

We writers are in some phase of pumpkin carving every day. We’re always finding ideas, thinking about writing, editing, polishing or submitting, even when we’re not physically working on it.

Carving a pumpkin is tedious, messy, time consuming, and frustrating. It takes energy and thoughtful planning to achieve the face we envision. Writing takes time, too – planning, editing, frustratingly searching for words, sucking our energy, and messing with our minds until we finally give birth to that book or story.

As writers, we are blessed to have the daily chance of finding a pumpkin (story idea) that we can carve (write). The world turns, the seasons move on. Fall changes to winter but we have a way to connect to the wonderful season of autumn whenever we want.

*Julie Canfield is an aspiring writer who currently lives in Richmond, Va. She shares her domicile with her husband, daughter, one cat, and two dogs. She has published short stories and articles on the web and in literary reviews.

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