Friday, April 10, 2015

Awful Writing, on Purpose

Copyright © Edward Riojas

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest comes around once a year with tongue-in-cheek kudos to some of the most awful writing on the planet – and it’s written that way on purpose. The contest pays homage to an old piece of fiction that has acquired a rather poor reputation among those truly blessed with writing skills. For some folks, the passage is only noteworthy because Charles Schulz often put the opening words of the maligned sentence in Snoopy’s manual typewriter:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

Acknowledging that I am not the best writer, I thought I would push the ugliness of my words in an artsy-fartsy direction, following the contest’s only criteria that each entry be a single sentence, and in the process create some not-so-lovely contest fodder. Don’t even think of plagiarizing my words, because I’ve already entered them in the contest. Besides, that little circled “C” thingy next to my name should mean something.

Below are my four entries. Wish me luck, and enjoy. Or not...

— Squat Carl teetered on the cutting edge of ripe indifference, sitting before a stand of olive trees painted by Van Gogh, pitting the oil, as Carl was so seldom prone to do, against Modigliani’s reclining nude.

— Greg smeared green in a wide swath over the canvas, although it wasn’t a grass green as he had at first thought but rather a sappish green closer to yellow ochre, with a touch of umber – burnt; not raw – and perhaps a bit of pthalo green thinned out with a little liquin, acquired as his brush skimmed over the previous-day’s blob of slightly tacky, but not completely dried out paint that apparently was not completely wasted.

— What was more, Eugene was less inclined to think of fine art as a whole instead of halfheartedly considering the whole “Less is more” principal, which he subscribed to in part most of the time.

— The most grandiose visions filled with countless meanderings; the most articulated considerations of cerebral thought unflinchingly denuded by esoteric ambivalence and bourgeois meaningless; the most inconsequential ramblings of inartistic mediocrity could not, Gwendolyn thought, pollute her minimalist mind.

Postscript: I received notification from folks that the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest that my entries were “Arrived and archived.” I’m pretty sure that's code for ‘Chucked in the dumpster.’

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