The Universe of Contest Winners: Notes From Beyond the Curtain

Wayward Writers

Guys, an amazing thing happened last Friday. I was at home, drinking my tea, typing away at what must be (I’ve lost count) a 28th draft of a story originally written in 2010, when my phone rang. (I know what you Millenials are thinking, but actually my phone rings several times a day, some robot looking for Lizette Avalos or Deena Ward–on the fast track to becoming character namesakes if they don’t update their account information, ahem.) Three things made this call special: 1) a human being was calling, 2) she was looking for Luke i.e. me and 3) she said, “Lauren Groff chose your story “Bad Things That Happen To Girls” for Colorado Review’s 2015 Nelligan Prize.”

I always thought writers who won contests lived in some kind of contest-winning alternate universe, that included daily footrubs, adolescent popularity, being followed home by friendly dogs and gender-normative flippy blond…

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