Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving Surprise!

By Brian Mullen

Two days ago, on Thanksgiving morning, I awoke early and stumbled into the computer room. This is my normal day off routine and I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary. But something very special happened I’m proud to share with all of you. It was an e-mail which read:

Hi everyone! And thank you for entering the first-ever Writing Fairy Humour-Writing Contest.

The initial judging is over, and the 10 finalist entries are winging their way to the three final judges: Gordon Kirkland, Debra McGrath and Neil Crone. Congratulations to all who entered - we had a hard time choosing because we were laughing so hard! We had nearly 200 entries, many of which were multiple submissions. We had poems (including haiku), plays, essays, fiction, rants - oh, it was wonderful reading them all. And it was painful to keep narrowing it down, because there were SO many great entries.

Eventually, choices had to be made, and I congratulate the following folks who made it into the final 10 with their entries.

And my name was on the list.

Normally I don’t enter contests that have a reading fee. I started and stopped myself from entering this contest twice but eventually I went ahead, paid the paltry $10 fee, and submitted my entry. Partly because I felt I had a very suitable entry for the criteria of this contest which was:

This year, any type of humour writing goes. Send us fiction, non-fiction, poetry, personal essays, scripts—heck, your grocery list if it will make the judges laugh. Maximum word count is 792 words. Yes, you read that right—792.

Very often, when I feel uninspired to write something of significance (a novel or short story), I give myself free range to just start writing anything – just for fun, just for my eyes only, just to keep the creative juices flowing. More often than not what I write is silly, embarrassing, and definitely not for anyone else’s eyes. But on one day I had written something silly that blossomed into something I truly found entertaining. And it was less than 792 words. So, I figured the stars and planets were in alignment and I entered it.

I will find out on December 9th if I am in the top three selected. Each of those positions have a cash prize and a chance to be published in The Writing FairyTM Guide to Humour Writing, slated to be published in 2007. You can find out more on the Writing Fairy at http://www.wsws.ca/thewritingfairy/index.php if you’re interested. And for your (hopeful) reading enjoyment, here is my entry entitled “Timing is Everything.”

My name is Carl Blunt and I have always wanted to be an author. It has been my dream for as long as I can remember. I’ve written things from time to time – small things, nothing published – but I’ve always known I had great stories bottled up inside me. I only needed the opportunity to tell them.

Convincing a publishing company to take a gamble on me, I procured a loan of sufficient funds to allow me to quit my job and become a professional writer. I immediately sat down and began my first work. And let me tell you, the ideas just flowed from me like a water line that cracked because of the pressure.

I wrote a lengthy tale of a Broadway-hopeful who was struck with a chronic case of laryngitis. Refusing to give up on his dream, he instead pens a musical called “Lozenge” and employs only laryngitis-stricken actors and actresses. The musical gets mixed reviews – the people in the front of the theater loved it while people sitting in the back couldn’t make out anything that was said. Through the production the hero’s voice steadily grows worse until he is unable to ever recover and leads the rest of his life nearly inaudible. I called my narrative, “The Hoarse Whisperer.”

Unfortunately this was in 1995 and only a month before my scheduled publishing date, a book entitled, “The Horse Whisperer” was published and my sponsors felt my book would seem like plagiarism. They implored me to write another book.

I liked the lozenge angle. So, I sat at my typewriter and the ideas continued to flow. And over the course of a year I wrote an insanely large story of a junior high school student who, in art class, made a special gift for his father. They were working with clay and he made him a vase. In the base of the vase he left an opening where his father, who seemed to have a perpetual cold, could store his favorite brand of throat lozenges that were always scattered around the house. But because the son had made the vase with such love, this vase, once given to his father, magically managed to reverse the father’s male pattern baldness. Thus, I entitled my book, “Hairy Pottery and the Chamber of Sucrets.” And again, as fate had done to me before, a month prior to publication, another book entitled, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” hit the bookstores and, again, my idea was seen as riding someone else’s success.

Depression hit and the funding was drying up. But I decided to give it one last try. I liked the lozenge angle and I crafted my favorite work of all. An alien lands in America, walks straight up to the first human he sees and coughs all over him. Then he flies away but not before his virus infects people of Earth and incredibly enhances their ability to do things. Give the victim a paintbrush, for example, and they’d give you a masterpiece. Hand them a typewriter and get back a bestseller. Give them a hammer and saw; they’ll give you a house beyond your wildest dreams. Then, suddenly, they fall into a sneezing fit and die. Because the disease made them into modern-day ‘Renaissance Men,’ I called my book simply “The Da Vinci Cold.”

I was three weeks too late. And now I am broke, my backers unwilling to give me any more money. And I am too depressed to try a fourth time. So, this is it. I’m drawing the curtains on my life and ending it all. I’m becoming a mime.

7 comments:

Gina said...

Brian, I can't believe it! The same thing happened with my first novel, the tale of a princess with extraordinarily nimble fingers who, due to being pricked by a spindle, finds herself at the bottom of a lightless well in perpetual slumber. You guessed it -- Darkly Dreaming Dexterous never made it into print.

Tory said...

Congratulations, Brian! Very punny. I can see why yours made it into the top ten.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Congrats, Brian!

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Kristine said...

Congratulations, Brian!

Nancy said...

Brian, I think this one's a winner! Kudos!