CBC's website today names this year's winner of the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest, a celebration of the world's worst opening lines instituted by the author of the iconic It was a dark and stormy night...
The award-winners quoted are brilliantly bad, so bogged down with cliches and bodacious blunders that they must be intentional. I mean, there's regular bad writing and then there is soaringly bad writing of LOL calibre. Like this:
"She walked into my office wearing a body that would make a man write bad cheques, but in this paperless age you would first have to obtain her ABA Routing Transit Number and Account Number and then disable your own Overdraft Protection in order to do so.
Kudos for this to runner-up Steve Lynch of San Marcos, Calif. Maybe it's just me, but you gotta admit in these recessionary, post-G20, big-brother-esque days, his entry in the detective fiction category has a certain je ne sais quoi.
To read more badder than bads, visit: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/books/story/2010/06/29/bad-writing-contest.html#ixzz0sHlOV6En
And yet, doesn't it all dredge up Anne Lamott's sage advice about Shitty First Drafts: how you have to write crap in order to get to the good (or at least better) stuff.
So maybe we all should try this as an exercise in breaking the block or conquering the old "I'd rather clean the toilet than write" carrot-and-stick conundrum.
I'm willing to bet that starting a day's practice by coming up with just such a gem may prove that writing a genuinely decent or at least workable first line isn't nearly as excruciatingly hard as we set it up to be.
Just another of the hoops we set ablaze before making ourselves jump/crawl/squeeze through them. So, kill the flames, and think of it as a poop hoop, my apologies to Lamott. And for pete's sake, save your results--there's always next year.
- A writer, mother, teacher, friend, I love books, blizzards and beaches, music from Hildegard von Bingen to the Beatles to Bonnie Raitt to The Brood; I love medieval churches, red wine, creme caramel, and roasted beets, and walking the woods and coastlines of home.