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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: Someone Had to Write It
By Catrina Bradley


They say the first bite is the best. Gerald knew from experience that, when correctly prepared, each bite of a French Bread pizza is equally exquisite. Through trial and error over the years, he had tweaked and twisted the instructions on the box until the crust was crispy but not crunchy, and the cheese was hot and gooey but not chewy.

When precisely five minutes had elapsed, he gingerly took a bite. "Mm. Perfect. Now I can concentrate."

He put his pen to his writing pad, and ink flowed and ebbed across the page.

He labored over the perfect verb. Struggled to seek out the precise adjective. Does this sentence sound too commanding? Will the reader understand what I mean here?

More time was spent on this short piece of prose than was probably necessary, yet the hours put into it didn't matter. The quality of the finished work was more important than the quantity of time spent.

When the words had turned to blurry scribbles on the paper, the author laid the pen to rest on top of the pad and stumbled to bed, only to toss and turn, and mull over each word as sleep cowered behind his unfinished work.

Morning broke with the sweet lullaby of birdsong, rousing the Gerald from his slumber. Aside from a necessary stop at the lavatory, the half-filled page was the first, and possibly only, destination on his itinerary. His eyes were already scanning the words he'd written the previous night when he when plopped into the wooden desk chair and picked up his pen once again.

Only the fourth and final act of the drama was left to be created. Pen was put to paper and, after a moment's hesitation, began moving, creating something out of nothing with the words it formed.

Sleep had been good for the author. Verbs and adjectives and the occasional adverb were precisely inserted amongst the nouns and modifiers, all punctuated with ease, creating a harmony of language heretofore undiscovered.

He slipped the pen into the menagerie of writing utensils inhabiting the silver cup on the desk. With a satisfied sigh, he sat back and flexed his wrist and fingers, cramped and aching from gripping the implement of creation. Maybe this piece is the one. The one that will crack open the door to success.


"Mother! MOTHER!"

Mrs. McDaniel waddled around the corner, drying her arthritic hands. "Gracious. Such a ruckus. What is it, Gerald?"

"It's here! The letter! A FAT one too!"

"What on earth... Oh!" She flung the dishtowel over her shoulder and scurried across the den to where Gerald jumped up and down. "From the company? Open it!"

Gerald's shaking hands managed to tear open the flap on the cumbersome envelope without destroying its contents. The pages trembled in his hands, then fell to the floor as, one after another, they were scanned and absorbed.

Mrs. McDaniel searched her child's face, soaking in his joy and rejoicing as wonder, astonishment, and exaltation flooded his features. Before the last page touched down, Gerald began dancing again, and she whooped with glee, wishing she could waltz with her baby cradled in her arms again.


"Gerald! I'm home!"

Clomping footsteps echoing in the stairwell assured Mrs. McDaniel her son, her special gift, was on his way.

"There's a box in the trunk, Gerald. Can you get it for me?" She followed Gerald to the garage, barely keeping her feet on the ground. It was all she could do not to spoil the surprise.

"Mama?" Gerald stared into the opened trunk, "A whole case of French bread pizzas?"

"I thought you might want to give a copy of your first published work to all your friends."

Gerald froze, then his hands grazed the frozen cardboard, caressing the carton like a long-lost lover.

"Is this..." He looked from the case of pizzas to his dear mother and back again. "This is it?"

"Child, you did it." No longer could the woman contain the joy bursting inside of her. She broke into an awkward jig and let out a squeal.

Gerald grasped one edge of a flap and tore it loose. It's neighbors quickly followed, and soon Gerald was holding an icy box, his eyes devouring the backside.

There, in orange and white, were the words he'd so carefully crafted--the new and improved instructions he'd painstakingly prescribed--his first published work.

Perfect French Bread Pizza in Four Easy Steps.

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This article has been read 861 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/30/10
I love a good chuckle in the morning!
Allison Egley 05/02/10
Hehehe This was cute. I was wondering where this was going, and loved the ending. While I've never done it, there are "instructions" I think I could improve upon. :)
Barbara Lynn Culler05/02/10
Such a build up!
I thought you were on target.
AnneRene' Capp05/02/10
Definitely on topic! Endearing story and I like the message...anything we writers get published is exciting. I like the down to earth humbleness of this.
Eliza Evans 05/02/10
What a great take on the topic! Just love the creativity, Gerald's whole-heartedness and the mom's support.

I feel good. :)
Ruth Stromquist05/03/10
I think people just had a busy weekend and weren't commenting much, as this looks good to me, and I enjoyed it. The thing that tripped me up personally (but may not have bothered anyone else at all)was the line "I thought you might want to give a copy of your first published work to all your friends." I found myself stopping and spending quite a bit of time trying to figure that out, feeling like I should know what it meant from the story above but that I'd missed something. If it were me, I'd leave everything as is, except move that one line to the end as the final punch. Then I, the reader, would've figured that she bought all those pizzas because he loved them and she wanted to help him celebrate. And yet, the line, which is great in itself, would be "icing on the cake" for your ending. However, you're a better writer than I am. I'm just telling you my PERSONAL tripping point as ONE reader.
Jackie Wilson05/03/10
This was fun and inventive, and easy to enjoy!
Laury Hubrich 05/03/10
Love Love LOVE this story! Yes, it's mind boggling all the writing that is done. Someone certainly has to do it. Very out-of-the-box! :)
Rachel Phelps05/03/10
Oh, this is so funny and out of the box. Loved it!
Carol Slider 05/03/10
Oh, this is FUN! It reminds me of a short temp assignment I had years ago at an ad agency that created labels for well-known products. They really did obsess over every word and every graphic detail. Good job--well done!
Joanna Stricker05/03/10
Funny and, as anyone who has attempted to read english instructions on a product made in a non-speaking country knows, giving product instructions is very important!

(My last sentence was cumbersome! Hope it was understandable :-)
Joanna Stricker05/03/10
Edit! Sorry, I meant to say "non-English speaking country". Having a non-speaking country just doesn't make sense, does it? Lol.
Tim George05/04/10
Okay - you got me there CAT. Very inventive and kept me in the dark till just the right moment.

And goodness knows writing instructions that make sense is apparently a skill few have.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/05/10
I had to read this again because I enjoyed it so much the first time. I do believe it was even better the second read through!
Beth LaBuff 05/05/10
Oh LOL! This is wonderful, the way you advance your story (and propel your reader). You put a smile on my face. (and I gotta tell you… I miss Iowa's Breadeaux --and Casey's-- Pizzas)
Carole Robishaw 05/05/10
This was great! totally loved it.
Edmond Ng 05/05/10
Interesting! The start and end sum up the story to show how the two relate! This is probably one of the reasons why sometimes we needn’t follow all the instructions in the guide to get it right. LoL (“,)