The Dark and Stormy April 15th Deadline


“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)

It’s April 15th, so go ahead and round-up all those remaining brain cells that have yet to be killed off and put them away in a safe place because you’re going to need only the dead ones for this next task.

That’s because April 15th is the deadline for the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest, a competition sponsored by San Jose State, where contestants vie for the dishonor of writing the worst beginning sentence to an imaginary novel inspired the purple prose of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.

Now since it was still a couple of days before the first day of the rest of my life, I decided to enter the Bulwer Lytton Fiction contest and guess what? Turns out I’m a horrible writer! So horrible, in fact, that out of 10,000 entries, my very bad sentence won the grand prize for the very crummiest of  them all!

My triumphant mess went as follows:

Delores breezed along the surface of her life like a flat stone forever skipping along smooth water, rippling reality sporadically, but oblivious to it consistently, until she finally lost momentum, sank and due to and overdose of fluoride as a child which caused her to suffer from chronic apathy, doomed herself to lie forever on the floor of her life as useless and an appendix and as lonely as a 500-lb. barbel in a steroid free fitness center.

Now because I aspired to be a tad bit better than bad, I decided to sit down to my keyboard and make the following attempts to write at least one sentence that could possibly be considered “pretty good.”

Amanda’s obsession for making homemade bread for the entire neighborhood was beginning to take over her life, and as she sat at the kitchen table with her flour-covered face in her flour-covered hands, the warm sun shone steadily through the kitchen window and Amanda began to slowly rise up out of her chair — suddenly realizing that she needed to be kneaded.

and

Charlie dreamed that he was dreaming he was awake and had fallen asleep.

OK, truthfully, at this point, I was starting to get a bit nervous about being able to come up with a pretty good sentence. It seemed the harder I tried to write pretty good, the more elusive “pretty good” became. Frankly, serious doubts were beginning to pierce the ears of my soul. But still I forged onward:

Rayton, a fine Guppitoid from Repox VII couldn’t put his slimy little fingerling on why Jessica, an ichthyolgist’s dream, wouldn’t have him for her husband when he had made it abundantly clear that the only domestic duties she would have to perform would be to boost his ego and to bear him several million live young a year, which he was even willing to help her eat.

and

As soon as Mary got to her walk-up, she was held up, tied up, and told to shut up, but luckily the culprits were picked up, locked up and Mary was helped up and then she threw up.

Ah! Finally I was warmed up. But one thing was certain. If I was ever going to write that pretty good sentence, I needed to relax.

I began taking deep breaths, one after another until the last thing I remember was falling off my chair and hitting the floor like –what else — a 500-lb. barbel in a steroid-free fitness center.

Which brings me to the moral of this story:

She who enters the Bulwer Lytton can take a lick in’ and keep on tickin.

Hey now! That’s a pretty good sentence if I do say so myself. But my quest for a pretty good sentence does not end here. I’m going to keep at it until I come up with the perfect pretty good sentence. It may take awhile but, after all, I do have until the last day of the rest of my life, or April 15th — which ever comes first.

Until next time . . . I love you

20 thoughts on “The Dark and Stormy April 15th Deadline

  1. Dearest Linda,
    I’m proud to say I knew you before you were a nobody, and nobody can take that way from me, not even a 500lb. barbell suffering from chronic apathy. If there was ever a more deserving author of non-sensical nonsense, I don’t know who it would be. I’m chartreuse with envy. You’re definitely 1 in 10,000, or more like 1 in 10 million. It’s quite an honor to be selected Best of the Worst, and I tip my clown nose to you.
    Until next time, know that I love your writing. It’s slicker than snot on a greased door knob.

    • “It’s slicker than snot on a greased door knob.” Oh you Southerners have such a lilting, lovely way with words! Thank you so much for your kind comment, Russell. It means a lot to me especially coming from the best humorist east and west- as well as smack dab in the middle of – the Mississippi!

  2. Anyone can write a bad sentence (I’m living proof).
    But to write a bad sentence that is so good it sends one into paroxysms of groaning laughter, well, that’s a horse of a different vegetable altogether.

  3. If only I’d inherited my sentence writing skills from the best of the worst, is be the cleverest daughter to ever live!

    Your sentences all make laugh so much!!!

    • Really? Ha! That is really a coincidence! Proving unequivocally that great minds do indeed think alike. Then again, it might just be a coincidence . . . but I say we go with the great minds thing!

  4. An amazing example of literary shame that has left me laughing and feeling a bit younger! I am very proud of you, dear friend from the past!

    • Vicky!!!! Thanks so much for dropping by! Welcome! We definitely need to catch up! I just now realized that except for the two years lived in Cheney, you and I almost went all 12 years of school together!! 😀

      • Crazy!! And better yet, we both apparently remember!! I should have known you would become an award winning humorist. I remember the play bill from our outstanding appearance in “Oklahoma”. I think I probably listed the riviting hobby of sewing, while you casually mentioned being an accomplished harpist. Love your humor!! I would live to catch up!!

  5. What?
    Could you repeat that please… my eyes glazed over at “Delores”….

    Congrats, though, on winning the contest. Is this your second award from them? I thought I’d seen or heard somewhere you’d won it some years ago…. If so, even more kudos… it’s hard to maintain that sort of competence at that style for so long… One might assume practice would debilitate that particular skill, as one learned more about writing…. but, then, maybe not. Perhaps you represent the rule, or, better yet, the exemption…

    Was I talking? Who said that? I think I’ll go take MY medication….

    Great one, btw….

    gigoid, the dubious

    • Thanks Dubious. I did win it some years ago and occasionally rerun it on the deadline day April 15th. I am exactly what your comment says, but somehow I know exactly what you mean! LOL!

  6. It must only be in the Arts that we chase awards for the worst as well as the best, and cheerfully compete for both. Try explaining it to an Olympic athlete. Well done, Linda! I’m laughing again!

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