Who was that masked writer?

writer wrestling mask

Public Radio International (PRI) today had a segment on young writers in Peru who are fighting it out on stage while wearing wrestling masks. Annie Murphy reports:

“New writers don masks, and head onto a stage where they’re given three random words, a laptop hooked up to a gigantic screen, and five minutes to write a short story. At the end of a match, the losing writer has to take off his or her mask. The winner goes on to the next round, a week later. And the grand prize? It’s a book contract.”

I think this is a great idea. Not, necessarily, for the young writers. But for the general (perhaps non-reading) public. I’ve been writing fiction and non-fiction since I was a young child — some of it promising, some of it competitive, and some of it awful. I know from the comments I get from close friends that few of them have the slightest idea of what a writer does to produce publishable writing. As an editor, so much of what I get for editing from non-writers is either incoherent or blithely plagiarized that I know they have no idea how to write for publication. Bringing the writing process onstage and into the spotlight is brilliant. Can you imagine a high school where the writing event draws as big a crowd as the basketball game? That’s a fantasy short story idea in and of itself. Quick! You’ve got five minutes.

The writer’s cat and the dish of strawberries

Become a Write-a-thon sponsor and support the Clarion West Writers Workshop.

The cat was sitting peacefully on the table, a dish of fresh strawberries by her paws.

I snapped the picture.

A minute later, the crash: Glass bowl in pieces on the patio pavers, strawberries among the shards. Cat, still sitting peacefully on the table, now facing me.

“So what?” she seemed to ask.

As I crawled around under the table, carefully picking up the pieces of glass, I was thinking about the importance of the first line of a story, or the first page of a book.

Do you start with the peaceful cat and berries? With the defiant cat among the broken glass and spoiled fruit? Or with the broken bowl and berries, no perpetrator in sight?

Yes, it’s the fourth week of the Clarion West Write-a-thon, and every domestic disaster is fodder for fiction. I’m working on the second of my three pledged short stories (which is not about strawberries). Clarion West Board Chair Kelley Eskridge has challenged the 142 people writing to raise funds for the organization to each bring in an additional sponsor, via PayPal or check, this week.

Will you become my next sponsor? If you’re local, I’ll bring you the next bowl of strawberries from the garden. Before the cat gets it.

%d bloggers like this: