Ron Carlson has been praised as "a master of the short story" ("Booklist"). In this essay collection, he offers a full range of notes and gives rare insight into a veteran writer's process by inviting the reader to watch over his shoulder as he creates the short story "The Governor's Ball." "This is a story of a story" he begins, and proceeds to offer practical advice for creating a great story, from the first glimmer of an idea to the final sentence. Carlson urges the writer to refuse the outside distractions--a second cup of coffee, a troll through the dictionary--and attend to the necessity of uncertainty, the pleasures of an unfolding story. "The Governor's Ball"--included in its entirety--serves as a fascinating illustration of the detailed anatomy of a short story.