Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not your usual writing contest

The last thing I wanted to do today was drive my son and his friend to the mall to see a movie. There was no good reason, except that Sunday is about the only day that I don’t have to run around town completing tasks and errands and accomplishing other annoying objectives like driving to work.

As soon as I dropped the boys by the theater entrance I turned on the radio, and I'm so glad I did. If I hadn’t been in the car, I never would’ve heard this fun story from NPR’s Studio 360 host Kurt Anderson, who was a minute or so into a story about attaching stories to worthless stuff.

I love stories about stories. I’ve written about the value of stories and why we tell them (see my March 18, 2011 post). But the gist of this story about stories was that selling items of little or no value with an interesting but fictionalized backstory makes the items more valuable. In an experiment, they hired writers to make up the stories, and quantified their results by auctioning off the items on eBay. They sold the items for a lot more than they were worth, and the stories were then collected in a book titled Significant Objects.

The good news is that they are sponsoring a contest in which anyone can go to the website, see pictures of three items picked up from the thrift shop they visited during the show, and write a fake backstory. The winner of the best story for each item will receive the item as a prize!

I’m attaching a link, so you can listen to the interview, watch the video, and create a fake backstory!

Write soon,


  1. How fun this sounds! Thanks, Mary!

  2. Mary--As a third grade teacher, I lie. A lot. Like, I have my students convinced I used to be a professional wrestler (a long time ago). My stage name was "Rowdy Roslawski." I also have them convinced I am in my 70's (not as much a stretch as the wrestler bit).

    Thanks for providing the link. It's a unique writing opportunity. I'll have to check it out.

  3. Mary, sounds like fun. Thank you. Have a great week.
    Will you please share NYMB publishing opportunities with your students and others you may know? You do not have to endorse, just mention. details on my blog. Thank you.

  4. Hi Mary,
    thanks. I will check it out.

  5. I believe the deadline is in about a week. So hurry up and write those backstories!