Many arts communities and organizations offer writer-in-residence programs. You rarely see such a position offered by a mall, however.
That’s exactly what Mall of America is offering in celebration of its 25th anniversary. The contest is open to anyone 18 or older, whether you’re a journalist, novelist, poet, or playwright. Interested writers simply have to apply via the Mall’s website.
Should you win, you’re going to be at the mall for a while. You’ll be spending five days “deeply immersed in the Mall atmosphere while writing on-the-fly impressions in [your] own words,” states the call for writers. “The contest winner will stay in an attached hotel for four nights, receive a $400 gift card to buy food and drinks and collect a generous honorarium for the sweat and tears they’ll put into their prose.”
For those who prefer online shopping, this might sound like hell. But that doesn’t exclude you from applying; many writers feel they need to suffer for their art, after all.
Folks at City Pages know that the Mall of America offers a huge variety of opportunities for a writer to mine. In 2007, staff writer Matt Snyders spent seven days straight wandering the mall during open hours, only leaving to sleep (well, there were a few naps taken on mall benches).
One of his mall-inspired passages:
“Many of our nation's idiosyncrasies—both good and bad—can be observed the moment you step inside its hallowed halls: our preoccupation with jaw-gaping enormity, our irrepressible capitalist spirit, our cultural diversity, our insistence on wearing jorts even in mid-November.”
If you’re interested, then it's time to bust out your jorts and get inspired. Application information for the writer-in-residence contest can be found here, and can be submitted through March 10. From there, your pitch will be considered. If selected, you’ll be asked to write a more detailed outline of your idea, which will then be judged by a panel of various writers.
Where and how will the fruits of your inspiration be used? It appears that it will be a surprise:
“Where will the winner’s lovingly crafted story end up? Just wait and see!”