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  • For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they
    greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with
    a kiss – a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and
    sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-
    mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.

    Molly Ringle

    Note:The winner of the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is Molly Ringle of Seattle, Washington. The author of one published and two soon-to-be-published novels, Molly Ringle only writes bad fiction when she fails at good fiction. She’d rather not say how often this happens. She lives in Seattle with her family, and her vices include uncalled-for moments of sarcasm, excessive consumption of Nutella, and an unladylike avidity for the raunchy films of Mel Brooks.

    As you can see, bad writing can be fun!

    Not necessarily fun for readers, although maybe some readers, but for a writer, bad writing can be instructive, stimulating (“I sure could do better than that!”), and even inspiring (“Now THERE’S an idea I can run with!”).

    One of the best places to find truly bad writing is the world-famous Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest where “Bad Writers Are Always Welcome.”

    “Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. The contest (hereafter referred to as the BLFC) was the brainchild (or Rosemary’s baby) of Professor Scott Rice, whose graduate school excavations unearthed the source of the line “It was a dark and stormy night.” (From the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Website, at”

    If you have nothing to do, or are bored, or are waiting for something to happen, you just might find many hours of delicious agony in reading the Annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Winners and Runners-Up.

    It is hard to believe that generally good writers can write so badly, but they do.

    So why not have a similar theme (not a Contest, just a time-waster) here on Cowbird, for anyone who feels stuck with a case, severe or otherwise, of writer’s block, or maybe just for fun, which is OK too! The guidelines are simple, like those for the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:

    “Write the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.”

    However, for us, I would expand the invitation to include the writing of the worst opening sentence to a true Story.

    I do not know why I thought about this this morning, but it seemed a nice way to start the day.

    In closing, here are a few of my own opening lines for your consideration:

    1. That night, gazing down on the rain-wet, muddy, slurpy-snowy, wind-swept, sodden, dimly lit Anchorage, Alaska street, I had a revelation of sorts, and that was that I needed to learn everything there was to know about sled dogs. whales, glaciers, ice fields, Eskimos and how to make my own clothes out of sealskin!

    2. What you are holding in your hands is nothing less than a book about my life, and how I grew up in a pretty normal home in a normal town with a normal family and a normal dog and a normal cat and went to a normal school where nothing much ever happened, so, briefly, the idea behind this book is to try and make my generally uninteresting life interesting, but at this moment, I do not know exactly how to do that except to lie, so heeeeeeere goes!

    3. This Story is about everything in my house, and I am going to take a close look at all my possessions and find their inner essence and reason for being in my life, pencil by pencil, cup by cup, chair by chair, mineral sample by mineral sample, plastic flower by plastic flower, because I believe you, Dear Reader, will be entertained by the stories all my things have to tell!

    In conclusion, let me encourage you to just take off your clothes, so to speak, and jump in and give it a whirl! There are too many really, really, really good writers in the world.

    Somewhere there needs to be a bastion of really, really bad writing, and thank heavens for the Bulwer-Lytton folks for leading the way!

    But why not some really, really bad writing here at Cowbird?

    Why not, indeed!

    (Digital Art, "Writing," by Alex in Adobe Photo Shop)
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