Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

The Writing Prompt Game

I notice that I have a lot of writers on my weblog reading list, some of whom have professionally published, and some of whom have not. I notice, also, a recurrent theme that a number of those who do not publish professionally wish that they could get their works into magazines, books or little literary journals, but never actually submit their more-than-winning work.

One of my journal "themes", if themes is the right word, is that any form of publishing, including self-publishing in a weblog, can be a "good" kind of publishing for the right person. I do not hold large corporate publishing houses or small-as-a-shoestring literary reviews (and particularly not academic short story and poetry journals, which often are filled with nepotic instincts and grandiose misplaced snobberies, but which I love anyway) in any particular regard. I trust my own aesthetic more than many other aesthetics. I am free to be bad at my discretion. Nonetheless, I have published a bit of creative material and a bit of legal material from time to time, and it is absolutely fun to be published by someone other than oneself.

I find that lots of the best writers just need a little prompting. I am a good prompt. I hereby volunteer my services to be that prompt.

Want to play? It's fun. Here's how:

1. You write a comment to this post, which says either "poems", "short story", or "opinion piece".
2. I will respond to the poems request with three bits of thought or image, to the short story requests with three lines of a story, and to the "opinion piece" request with three choices of topics.

Then the fun begins:

3. If you choose "poems", you use the writing prompts to write three poems, format and subject matter optional. If you choose "short story", you write a story of no less than 1,000 words and no more than 5,000 words, using the writing prompt as the prompt for the story. If you choose "opinion piece", you write a 750 to 2,000 word opinion piece for an op/ed page.

A NOTE ABOUT PROMPTS: A writing prompt is not a mandatory theme, is not required language for your poem or story and is nothing but a focus from which to write. You can write the opposite, write the theme, quote the words, not quote the words, explain yourself, not explain yourself, do as you will. I assign you a full license in the words I'll give you, so that you have perpetual permission to use the prompt as you will. But don't take the prompt as a limitation, take it as an idea. For example, in a recent post about North Carolina, I used a Lisa Loeb song, "Stay", as my own prompt, although it had nothing to do with the post. Why? Because it was playing on the radio when I was driving in rural NC yesterday morning, and because I have a mild crush on Lisa Loeb. So don't take the prompt as a limitation, but instead as an incredible liberty. In my journal, I frequently use prompts to write the opposite of what the quotation says, or to write the same, or some other thing not covered above.

4. When you have finished your poem, story or piece, you agree to submit it for publication in an appropriate venue. If you're not sure how to do that or where to do that, I will find you an appropriate poetry journal, short story journal, or newspaper to submit your work. You promise, at your own expense, to submit the work for potential publication.

NOTE: I offer the following resources, free of charge: reading of your work, critical comment on your work, and upbeat cheerleading for your work. I am not a great writer, am a decidedly bad poet, and am not a wondrous thinker. But I am here to help. I am on your team. I will do any of the things within reason necessary to help you get this submission done.

I also offer, free of charge, to find you places to submit, to help you with questions about cover, SASE, postage, courtesy, and the like. You don't have to worry about mechanics or feeling ignorant or embarrassed. This is a "no worry" zone.

I do not plan to send you, by the way, to the biggest or most prestigious publications. I plan to send you to cool little lit mags or two-bit places which actually publish people, or to your local or regional newspaper with your editorial pieces. I reserve the right to use more challenging venues for the more published among us. I reserve the right to use absurd venues, as well.

This brings us to item 5.

5. In addition to agreeing to submit your story, poem or article for publication, you agree to advise us of the results of your submission. When it is accepted or rejected for publication, you will advise us of the rejection or acceptance, including what it said and what it looked like. If you're rejected, you'll share what you wrote in your journal, unless you want to submit it elsewhere.

This game is an unabashed attempt to get you out writing and submitting. If you choose to play, you choose to "stand tall", to submit and be gosh-darned! Any players out there?

If you are a player, willing to risk embarrassment, postage and even rejection,
type "poems", "short story" or "opinion piece". If you are not up to that task, but wish to try a writing exercise in your own journal, you may as a lesser alternative write "post prompt".

You have nothing to lose but your shackles and your fear. You have everything to gain, including my deepened respect, which so many of you have already, but which is nonetheless a worthwhile thing. If you agree to play,then two last rules apply:

6. You give me license to gently tease you if you do not follow through, and to note as much in a public place (i.e., this journal) and
7. You agree and understand that I am on your team, and do not care if you get rejected or accepted, but only want you to play, submit and have fun.

Shall we dance?
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