Monday, October 12, 2009

Give Me The Pulitzer For Flash Fiction

I want to win the Pulitzer Prize for the best first chapter I’ve written. If I’ve bagged the great literary award then I can get down to business and write the Great American Novel. Naturally, the follow-up chapters will have to be as amazing as the first. Does this sound nuts? A bit over the top. There already is a James Jones Fellowship for a first novel-in-progress which means that you must connect on your first try. Stellar sophomore efforts need not apply; although Glimmertrain has just begun a fiction contest for the best start of a short story. And why not? Why shouldn’t creative writing earn accolades for best intentions and for great potential? Obama has won the Noble Peace Prize even though the time bomb is still ticking. Okay, so I’ve switched gears and jumped to politics from creative writing. I’m driving at a bigger point here.

I think a lot of people are stunned about the whole Nobel Prize thing. I think writers were shocked when Herta Mueller won the Noble Prize for Literature a few days ago, but this business of giving the Peace Prize for unfinished business isn’t just a case of being premature or overly optimistic. It’s irresponsible. It puts an enormous amount of pressure on the president. And let’s say he is able to resolve the global balance of power struggle what then? Will he win another Noble Prize as a bookend?

Has the need to create a utopian image trumped the need to create a utopia? How far do we go with this? If peace is the goal then shouldn't, at least, a semblance it be reached.

To me the committee seemed not to put the cart before the horse, but to have committed a fallacy of slippery slope. They've set a bendable precedent. And in the long-run that only shakes heads, not hands.

I fear that there is such a need to get things done in a general sense that we often leave things undone. It’s one thing to put your soul into something and fail at it. Samuel Beckett said it best when he said, “Ever tried? Ever failed? No Matter, try again, fail again, Fail better.” But, when one hasn’t toiled, hasn’t labored in the truest sense one hasn’t completed one’s mission.


  1. Interesting post. None of us can resist the political post now and then. Plus it gives me a chance to put in my two cents.

    I think the prize for Obama was a mistake only because it put him in a bad spot politically within the US where many already complain he's being hailed as the Messiah or that he's gained global popularity by bad mouthing his own country (none of which I agree with btw). Americans lack historical perspective.The Nobel Peace Prize has always been somewhat political in nature. It wasn't even one of the original prizes Nobel created. Plus, looking down the list of of laureates you'll find plenty of" hope for the future" and lots of unfinished business. Prime example:

    1978-Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin
    1994-Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin

  2. You nailed that one smack dab on the head, John. When I posted my facebook status a few weeks ago, "What makes a hero, a hero?" I got all sorts of hair-brained comments. I wasn't aiming at anyone, per se, but the majority of private messages I got were "to the death" Obama supporters who thought I was digging up trouble. Bleh! BYW, I'll battle you for that flash fiction the Pulitzer and beyond!