Hey it’s Rerun Friday! And as we ride through the Friday conveyor belt of time on our way to that sunshiney weekend of joy, I’m going to throw in this back story for today’s Friday Rerun which is about winning the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest.
Back in the year 1990, when my kids were little, my husband, 37, decided I needed to get out more so I signed up for a creative writing class.
At first, I did the writing assignments quickly so I could get them over with and get back to more important things in my life back then which were:
1) trying to figure out the best way to get whatever the dog just threw up out of the carpet
2) gargling water for the amusement of my two-year-old.
No wonder 37 thought I needed to get out more! 37 was right! (37′s birthday is next week and I think I’ll give him that last sentence for his present.)
Anyway, one of the assignments for the class was to enter the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest. So I did and to my utter surprise I won. The grand prize! Which I soon found out was international big news!
My 15 Minutes of Fame
Suffice it to say, I got a lot of press. They read my sentence on the Today show. CNN put it up on the screen every hour throughout the day. What a thrill! I was also asked to give interviews to radio stations and newspapers from all over the country. The local news even came to my house and did a story on me. Phew! The whole thing was nothing short of surreal.
So here’s Friday’s rerun:
As Lonely As a Five-Hundred Pound Barbell in a Steroid-free Fitness Center
It’s nearly April 15th, so go ahead and round-up all those remaining brain cells that have yet to be killed off and put them away in a safe place because you’re going to need only the dead ones for this next task.
That’s because April 15th is the deadline for the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest, a competition sponsored Scott Rice at San Jose State, where contestants vie for the dishonor of writing the worst sentence to an imaginary novel. It was inspired by this overwrought beginning to a novel penned by Edward Bulwer Lytton:
|“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
–Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
Now since it was still a couple of days before the first day of the rest of my life, I decided to enter it and guess what? Turns out I’m a horrible writer! So horrible, in fact, that they picked my sentence as the very crummiest of them all!
My triumphant mess went as follows:
Delores breezed along the surface of her life like a flat stone forever skipping along smooth water, rippling reality sporadically, but oblivious to it consistently, until she finally lost momentum, sank and due to and overdose of fluoride as a child which caused her to suffer from chronic apathy, doomed herself to lie forever on the floor of her life as useless and an appendix and as lonely as a 500-lb. barbel in a steroid free fitness center.
Now because I aspired to be a tad bit better than bad, I sat down to my keyboard and made the following attempts to write at least one sentence that could possibly be considered “pretty good.”
Amanda’s obsession for making homemade bread for the entire neighborhood was beginning to take over her life, and as she sat at the kitchen table with her flour-covered face in her flour-covered hands, the warm sun shone steadily through the kitchen window and Amanda began to slowly rise up out of her chair — suddenly realizing that she needed to be kneaded.
Charlie dreamed that he was dreaming he was awake and had fallen asleep.
OK, truthfully, at this point, I was starting to get a bit nervous about being able to come up with a pretty good sentence. It seemed the harder I tried to write pretty good, the more elusive “pretty good” became. Frankly, serious doubts were beginning to pierce the ears of my soul. But still I forged onward:
Rayton, a fine Guppitoid from Repocalox VII couldn’t put his slimy little fingerling on why Jessica, an ichthyolgist’s dream, wouldn’t have him for her husband when he had made it abundantly clear that the only domestic duties she would have to perform would be to boost his ego and to bear him several million live young a year, which he was even willing to help her eat.
As soon as Mary got to her walk-up, she was held up, tied up, and told to shut up, but luckily the culprits were picked up, locked up and Mary was helped up and then she threw up.
Ah! Finally I was warmed up. But one thing was certain. If I was ever going to write that pretty good sentence, I needed to relax.
I began taking deep breaths, one after another until the last thing I remember was falling off my chair and hitting the floor like –what else — a 500-lb. barbel in a steroid-free fitness center.
Which brings me to the moral of this story:
She who enters the Bulwer Lytton can take a lick in’ and keep on tickin’.
Hey now! That’s a pretty good sentence if I do say so myself. But my quest for a pretty good sentence does not end here. I’m going to keep at it until I come up with the Perfect Pretty Good Sentence. It may take awhile but, after all, I do have until the last day of the rest of my life, or April 15th — which ever comes first.
The deadline for entering the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest is April 15. So there’s still time to enter, if you’re so inclined, go here to find out all the details.
Until next time . . . I love you