Hardingfelde sent me a link to a Public Radio writers’ contest. The rules are pretty simple: the manuscript must be two thousand to five thousand words, be anonymous but accompanied by a letter with the writer’s details, and written by someone living in our state who is over 18 years of age. However, having read past winners, I think there should be some more rules stated. These people all write in the same style, which is one I neither write in nor enjoy reading, and maybe they should just state that up front in their rules:
Your story must be from a privileged upper-middle class white perspective, even if the protagonist is poor. Bonus points if you write like a woman; while manuscripts are anonymous, we always choose women writers. Remember that humor is not appreciated; we are not looking for the next David Foster Wallace or John Irving, no matter how much people actually enjoy their writing. There must be a lot of pathos, as though you have never encountered tragedy before so that when it strikes you are shocked by how horrible and unfair it seems. We will not entertain the notion of giving the prize to any story with a positive outlook on life, since our lives (and yours) are so easy that we need to read about fictional tragedy in order to feel like your story has any meaning. We strongly encourage you to include people of color in your story, but please do not write from their point of view, and we certainly discourage actual writers of color from submitting manuscripts, since we only award prizes to those with a white perspective. Remember, we your judges are all intellectuals, so be sure to write about something we can understand, like life in academia. We don’t want to read about any actual struggles, just tragedies of the sort that can befall wealthy white people.
What do you think, readers? Should I email this fleshing out of the rules to the contest judges so they can post a more honest evaluation of what they are looking for?