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The Golden Ticket

A Holiday Message from Eric Edson

Hello writers all:

During the holidays I often find myself thinking about gratitude.

Friendship, appreciation, love… don’t most all of our deepest emotions contain a hefty measure of gratitude? Seems to me gratitude is really life’s secret sauce.

Once upon a time I was a sophomore English Major in college, a kid who wanted so terribly, terribly much to become a writer.

One day in a poetry course the professor introduced a surprise guest, the poet and novelist James Dickey. Now, Mr. Dickey had written many books of poetry but he was best known for his novel “Deliverance,” which he had adapted into a screenplay for the successful film version.

Oh, yes, and also… Mr. Dickey had just been appointed by the President of the United States to the post of 18th United States Poet Laureate. And he had dropped by to hear some of our student poetry.

I grabbed my backpack and whipped out a poem, one I was especially proud of, seven long stanzas in all, and I eagerly held it out to him. The great man told me to read it aloud.

So I cleared my throat, got dramatic and began.

Eventually, my poem came to an end. Utter silence fell. Eternity passed. And I felt all my dreams of becoming a writer sinking, oozing out of me onto the classroom linoleum floor.

Finally, Mr. Dickey took the poem from my sweaty fingers and he studied those words on paper a moment more.

Then the Poet Laureate of the United States of America read out loud to the whole class – exactly four words from a middle stanza of my poem: “Lightning is sky bound…”

There he stopped. Four words. He nodded, and almost in a whisper said, “Now that’s poetry.”

He only liked four words?! I wanted to disappear… run off and become a monk in some mountain cave…

…and then the light bulb clicked on.

This kind, caring, very demanding man had just told me in a subtly encouraging way – that I had a long, hard road ahead of me to become any kind of writer. But also, but also… if I could endure the struggles and rejections I would face in the many years of lonely self-doubting labor before me… I just might have enough talent to eventually become a real writer.

And my gratitude for James Dickey’s insight into the truth, challenge, and hope expressed in his few words about a pretty bad poem lives within me still.

The moral of this little story? Be resilient. Be relentless. Trust your instincts but stay open to recognizing you will sometimes be wrong. Learn, learn, learn, and accept the self-doubt that sits on all writers’ shoulders glowering down upon us. Make a pet out of it. Teach it tricks. Just never ever let it win.

And hold close your Golden Ticket for a truly fulfilling life: Gratitude.

All dearest best wishes for a joyful holiday
season, and a peaceful, rewarding 2023.


A Holiday Message from Eric Edson - Screenwriting Book Author

If you still need a copy, The Story Solution is also available on Amazon USA, so pick one up today.  (Makes a great gift, too!) 

All dearest best wishes for a joyful holiday season, and a peaceful, rewarding 2023.

Here are some other valuable conversations with Eric that can help improve your writing:

About The Story Solution: Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing screenplays. Visit the website at to download a complimentary book chapter and view Masterclass clips about creating characters“Like” the Facebook page to receive scriptwriting tips and get more information about screenplay writing.

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