Since 1983 the English Department of the San Jose State University has sponsored the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
A whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the worst possible opening sentence to an imaginary novel.
Named after the Victorian English writer Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who penned a novel with the opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Later immortalized by Snoopy, the beloved Schultz “Peanuts” cartoon character.
Bulwer-Lytton is also credited with coining the now famous quotations, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” “The great unwashed,” and “The pursuit of the almighty dollar.”
During the more than thirty years the Bulwer-Lytton contest has been in existence it has grown in popularity to attract entries numbering in the thousands, from contestants worldwide. Prestigious newspapers in the past have written articles about it, and requoted the winning entries.
The number of entries per person is unrestricted making the total entries received far greater than the number of people. So I was thrilled when the two entries I submitted were recognized. I won First Prize in the “Children’s Literature” sub-section, with the following entry:
“The doctors all agreed the inside of Charlie’s intestinal tract looked like some dark, dank subway system in a decaying inner city, blackened polyps hanging from every corner like tiny ticking terrorist time bombs, waiting to burst forth in cancerous activity; however, to Timmy the Tapeworm this was home.”
Furthermore my second entry received a “Dishonorable Mention,” (Which is actually good.) in the Crime/Detective” sub-section:
“The janitor’s body lay just inside the door, a small puncture wound below his right ear made with a long thin screwdriver, the kind electricians use and can often be found in the bargain bin at the hardware store and come with a pair of cheap wire cutters that you never use because they won’t cut wire worth a damn and at best will only put a small indent in the wire so you can at least bend it back and forth until it breaks.”
These winning entries bring no monetary gain, but never-the-less it is a huge deal for me. It is recognition for my creative endeavors. Although it is extremely satisfying to have people admire my past work, namely bicycle frames I built, it is my “Past” work. I have moved on.
I was recently called out on my use of the term “ex framebuilder,” and it was suggested I should drop the “ex.” It is part of my title now, it has been the heading of this blog since its inception almost ten years ago. I haven’t built a frame since 1993.
When I walked from the bike business, I decided to direct my efforts in other creative directions, namely writing and songwriting. A difficult field to reach any level of recognition because there are way more writers and songwriters than framebuilders.
It is one thing to take metal and paint and create a functional object of great beauty, but to choose words and assemble them in the correct order, for me is the greatest form of creativity. It is truly creating something out of nothing. Songwriting takes this concept a step further, I am adding random musical notes to the equation.
So this is why this whimsical, nonsense, competition means so much to me. It is a level of recognition for what I do now. One cannot dwell on things they have done in the past, no matter how worthwhile. I like to think that my greatest creative achievements are yet to come.
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