Contests … I’ve entered a couple, but to be honest I don’t think I have what they want. I write in a pretty specific way, I figure out what I’m supposed to put in the box, and then I throw the box away. I do think, however, that it’s important that you enter contests, and get your feet wet, and win, not win … whatever. It’s just important to have the confidence to put your work out there for people to read, and not for the same old stupid reasons we keep hearing over and over again, but because it’s essential that you understand that you write for a reader as well as for yourself. Hey I’m the first person to tell you that I only write for myself, but then I’m the guy who’s unpublished and not dead. When I write, I always remember that Steve Martin line from Planes Trains and Automobiles, where he says to John Candy “Hey next time you say something, have a point, it makes is so much more enjoyable for the listener!” (I’m pretty sure that’s a quote.) Maybe this isn’t the thing to tell people, but I’ve found too many people aren’t willing to say anything when they write. I wrote in my first blog that I didn’t think I became a good writer until I became honest with myself about who and what I was. And although I avoid writing about my life and myself like the plague, I will have to say that I’m honest when I write. I know that makes no sense now, but I intend to revisit this.
Back in college I took this writing class with my friend, Wayne, and Wayne was (and is) this amazing writer who wrote screenplays filled with dialogue and scenes that rivaled any work of fiction I had ever read. I think it takes a special kind of person to be able to write a screenplay; they have to be able to create a scene … a moment, a mood, an emotion, with dialogue and scenery. It’s not an easy thing to do. I take a stab at it from time to time for shits and giggles, but I never think I manage to make it work. (Although I am rather brilliant, so I’m probably wrong about that.) People always tell me I should write screenplays, but mostly because they’re assholes who think that I’m not doing the fiction thing very well, so I should move down to screenplays. God I hate literary assholes like that. Screenplays are every bit the work of art that literary fiction is, and sometimes more so. So anyways, back to the class, there was this girl in the class who tore Wayne a new asshole every time he would turn in a story. Wayne and I would go to the pub after class, and order these stupid 32 ounce beer pitchers, and talk about what a bitch she was, and how we were going to rip her an new one when we got to one of her stories.
Well the day comes, and this chick turns in a story, and it’s our job to critique it. I’ll never forget it; the story was called The Crepe Ball. It was this story about how this ball followed these people through their stupid lives. You know what? I don’t really remember what it was about, but I remember there was a vivid description of this orb, and even after this overdone, overwhelming explanation of this crepe ball, I still don’t know what the fuck a crepe ball is.
Now the point I’m trying to make is this, and yeah I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell this has to do with contests, and publishing, and the rest of it. Wayne and I didn’t say anything to this girl about her story, other than we didn’t really get it, and we were terribly nice about it (trust me, this story sucked). The rest of the class sat there, and raved about the poetry of the piece, and the artistry of its prose, and I think they really did like it. AND THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT THERE JUDGING CONTESTS. I want you to remember the stupidest most annoying fat girl in your writing classes in school. Now picture what they’re doing now. You know they’re not married. You know they’re not prostitutes or strippers … Now I read the winners of this contest, and if you continue to read this post, you’ll see my story, as well as the topic (and this topic is for real. I’m probably not supposed to post it, but maybe I am what do I know about the law anyways?). The winners of this contest did a pretty good job … at being kind of boring and uninspired. And this is why literary fiction is in the dumps. I just went on the NY Times best sellers list, and I kid you not, but a Star Wars book is the number one book (I’ve got to pick it up, it looks great). I’m not saying that my story is the greatest story in the world, but I’m saying that it’s pretty unique, and it’s pretty well written, but out of 10 mentions, I didn’t get even a one, and this proves that literature is in big trouble! (just kidding, but you get my point) Oh by the way, let me say that this was a 24 hour contest, I didn’t have your normal amount of time to edit or do anything with it.

Topic: The bells on the door were still echoing as she stepped further into the old toy store. The owner winked at her and turned back to his black and white television set. She reached under the rack on the back wall and pulled it out. It was just where she’d left it last week. She approached the counter and put the item down.
He turned to her, grabbed the item with surprise, and said, “This is NOT for sale…”

By Kael

People in town said everyone heard about it because it was a slow news day, but I think I can argue that anytime a ten-year-old boy steals a Barbie Doll from a small town toy store, and in his fear runs out in the middle of the street and gets run over and killed would make the news any day. The legitimate news sources handled it pretty delicately, of course, while the not so reputable newspapers actually ran headlines like “GENDER FENDER BENDER … Nine year old boy killed for stealing a Barbie Doll.”

All kinds of images run through your brain when you think of a boy wanting a Barbie Doll, but Casey Hart was a normal kid. He played baseball, albeit, not very well according to his coach, Harold Ross. The hardest part about baseball for Casey was standing. He was the team’s permanent outcast to right field, and had the odious duty of looking like he was always ready to catch a ball in the unlikely occasion that a lucky pitch took an improbable bite out of a bat and actually made it past the in-field and out to him. Legs slightly more than shoulder width apart, bending over with butt protruding outwards resting hands on your knees while craning head forward, may have felt natural for a yoga-master, but for a ten-year-old boy who had problems sitting still, this stance was torture.

This, however, certainly didn’t drive him to a life of crime. The week before the first practice Casey’s mother took him to, TOYS-A-GO-GO, located a couple blocks from their home, to purchase a mitt. The store was owned by two brothers … Troy and Billy Bart. Troy was a friendly aging hippie with a long gray pony-tail, while Billy is an overweight man of short stature, who spent his days in the back of the store, ordering toys, and watching a small black and white TV that only picked up local stations.

Coincidently the same day Casey and his mother were shopping for a mitt, Trevor Moore and his father were in the store doing the same thing. Trevor, although not the school bully, did love to flick Casey in the head, or punch him on the shoulder any time he got the chance. TOYS-A-GO-GO may have been small, but it was a maze of aisles and toys, that was easy to get lost in. While Casey’s mother was going through mitts, a disinterested Casey began to wander the store looking for more interesting fare. He happened upon a new Barbie Doll who was wearing a short pink skirt, white halter-top, and high heels. He picked it up just as Trevor turned down his aisle.

One look at Casey and his doll sent Trevor into a laughing panic. Upon hearing this, Casey instinctively turned the doll over and tried to make it appear as if he was looking down her dress. As Trevor’s laughter got louder, Casey decided to cut his loses and put the doll back on the first shelf he saw; the shelf opposite the dolls; behind the Monopoly games. Trevor kept laughing but turned around and went running when he heard his dad screaming his name.

A couple weeks went by and Casey couldn’t get that doll out of his head, so he gathered up all his money, and ventured back to the store. The door chimed when he walked in, and Billy Bart was at the cash register watching the local news on his black and white TV. Casey had never seen him up front before, and was a little afraid of buying the doll with him there. He decided that he would tell old Billy that he was buying the doll for his sister. He didn’t have a sister, but Billy couldn’t have known that.

At first he went back to where he had found it before, but they were all gone. Although it was a long shot, he turned around, and reached into the shelf behind the Monopoly games, and there was the doll he stashed. He took it, and made his way up to the front of the store, and waited for Billy to ring him up

Billy waited for a commercial before he turned around. He took one look at the doll, and then up at Casey, and asked, “What you want with a doll, boy?” Casey took a deep breath, and said “It’s for my sister …” There was a long pause, while Billy just stared at Casey. “You ain’t got a sister! That doll ain’t for sale to boys! Get out of out here before I call your mom!”

No one knows what got over Casey, but something told him to grab that doll and run as if his life depended on it. Throwing all his money on the counter, he grabbed the doll and ran out of the store. Billy tried to climb over the counter, but realized that his size wouldn’t allow it, so he ran around to the opening and took off running. Casey ran as quickly as he could, but Billy was hot on his trail. Without thinking, he turned out into the street, and Mrs. Washborne, who was out grocery shopping, didn’t notice the boy, and ran him over. People on the street later said it looked as if she saw the doll and sped up.

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