The Hard Is What Makes It Great

I’m a few years and thousands of pages into a project—and am starting over.

I had an “all is lost moment.”

It hit around the time Steve published his first “From the Trenches” article.

I cried.

I sulked.

I said something shitty to my husband.

I thought my world was falling apart—that everything that could go wrong had, or did, or soon would.

I was wrong.

I’m alive.

I’m working.

I’m healthy.

Most important: My kids and husband are healthy and doing their amazing things.

What helped me hurdle the moment?

Steve #2.

In his “Resistance at the Ph.D. Level” article, Steve wrote about another version of himself, a 2.0 version who would tackle the the messy pieces Steve 1.0 created.

Steve #2 has certain advantages that Steve #1 doesn’t.

First, he starts with a clean slate.

It’s not his fault that this project is all bolloxed up.

He’s the surgeon.

He’s the Fix-it Man.

He’s the pro from Dover.

Steve #2 will come in, sew this mess up, and get it back on his feet.

I know this #2 person he spoke of, but it was reading his experience that helped get Callie #2’s ass back where her heart wanted to be.

Five days earlier I posted the piece “Every Battle Makes Me Stronger.”

Easier said than done.

I know the process Steve described.

I know the Kubler-Ross stages he shared in “Report from the Trenches, #1.”

But . . . The experience is easier identified on the other end, once you hit the acceptance stage.

I’m there now.

Callie #2 isn’t thinking about what she coulda, woulda, shoulda.

She’s looking toward the finish line.

She’s thankful that Steve and Shawn are sharing their experiences.

She knows it’s easy to forget that we all go through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, whether it is restarting or reviving a project, raising a child, or wrapping our heads around life period.

It’s hard.

Cue Jimmy Dugan:

It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.

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Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.



Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.



Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"



  1. Mary Doyle on July 28, 2017 at 5:34 am

    Simply “Wow” Callie!

  2. JD Eames on July 28, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Brava, Callie!

  3. Joel D Canfield on July 28, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Yes. This.

    I’m eager to find out what you’ve been working on.

  4. Brian Nelson on July 28, 2017 at 6:47 am

    It is not schadenfreude that I feel. That was when I was the only Patriots fan at the Super Bowl.

    However I don’t think my English language is proficient enough to describe how powerful these posts have been.

    Empathy isn’t exactly it. Compassion isn’t it either.

    The relief I feel knowing I’m not insane nor the only one is powerful. The insight. The tribal sense of understanding. The sorrow I feel for everyone, but mixed with hope. The hope transcends the sorrow. Probably the best series yet. Raw. Authentic. Thank you.

  5. Gwen Abitz on July 28, 2017 at 7:08 am

    Yes, WOW, WOW, WOW, Callie. Applying to my project that started nearly 33 years ago [which I had no clue I was in the making of starting such a project] which in reality if I would have known I would have said “Are you kidding me” NO WAY. The Trenches (maybe a good name for a book; but no thank you. Then the other project, my in-home business, I started 22 years ago. Just when I think OK BOTH are History..A newspaper and a hair appointment changes “the thought” pattern. So one never knows “where the message” will come from AND the game Resistance is attempting to play. “It is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.

  6. Lyn on July 28, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Yes, wonderful posts. Thanks for bearing your heart, Callie, and an even bigger thanks for pulling yourself out of the muck and carrying on as Callie #2! Kudos!!

    We all make mistakes, struggle and get knocked down. But bouncing back is what’s important. Fall down. Get back up. Accomplishing anything worthwhile demands it.

    I’m in the midst of rehashing my novel too, sorting out what I missed, what I didn’t understand, what I can do differently, etc. so I can do a better job of storytelling.

    Thanks so much Steve for this series of posts. Priceless.

    Here’s a great inspirational video clip called Fearless Writing. It brought back to mind — Oh yeah, I was in “the zone” and that creative high is why I love to write. Just because I can do a better job of it is no reason to quit.

    So…when fear and failure whisper in your ear, learn how to tune them out. They’re not your friends.

  7. Jeff Korhan on July 28, 2017 at 7:23 am

    Well, I did have to Google Jimmy Dugan to get the punchline!

    Good for you. Sometimes an epic meltdown is needed to free the mind. 🙂

  8. Michael Beverly on July 28, 2017 at 8:11 am

    Can’t wait to see what’s coming down the road.

  9. BING on July 28, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Thanks Callie, awesome article.

  10. Beth Barany on July 28, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Callie, I hear you and go through such crashes and Phoenix moments almost every day. I love the back and forth you share. It’s a reminder of all the versions of ourselves that are so capable. Here’s to our version #2!

  11. Tina Goodman on July 28, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Now it’s time to start over. You go, girl!

  12. M. Talmage Moorehead on August 1, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Callie, thank you for sharing the objective truth about this subjective journey we share. It’s great to be part of a group of struggling, caring people, all working in parallel, but at a deep level, all working together.

  13. Nik on August 4, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Wait, so does that mean you scrapped Callie 1.0’s work entirely, or did 2.0 step in and “clean up the mess”?

    From a practical perspective, I know how messy things can get when doing revisions on top of revisions, but I’m wondering if that means you throw out your old material entirely, or just start with a blank text file and simply pluck the things that work from your old draft.

    I learned my lesson about two years ago when I ripped apart an old project and didn’t save the original file. What a mess. I made a lot more work for myself instead of doing the smart thing and keeping an intact copy of the original.

    Good luck with your project, Callie, and have a great weekend!

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