Watson and I

Image for Watson and I postcard story

Almost a year ago this month, I wrote my first “postcard stories” (500 words or fewer), for a contest by Geist magazine. I had submitted five entries, but could only show the pictures of the “postcards” I had chosen with my entries since I couldn’t publish the entries and still be eligible for judging. A year later, I found out I didn’t place first to third, but did get one postcard story short listed! A thrill for me being a new writer and someone who is consistently told he couldn’t write succinctly! Maybe not if I didn’t work hard at it, but I definitely can! Here is that postcard story, with the others to come soon. I hope you like it! Give it a chance. It’s only 500 words… including the title! 🙂

If you liked these postcard stories and wanted to see others I had submitted, please click here.


Watson and I

‘Twas elementary, my dear Watson. Regional novel writing contest victory. National novel writing contest victory. Publishing deal. National book award. Another publishing deal. Another book award. All anonymous. The Banksy of novel writing, they called me. Except for one secret meeting to prove my residency, no one knew my identity. I stayed four degrees of separation from my agent, and always communicated in small talk code. The secret intelligence service would have been challenged to identify me!

Fun as it was, it lasted only a few years. Intentionally fooling the judges and public had lost its joy. Unintentionally, fooling myself was never fun. The joke had turned on me.

I never expected success. I only wanted to make a make a point. A fluke recognition was my highest aspiration, to accentuate my point. With that first writing competition victory, though, I convinced myself otherwise. That I could be satisfied with joy of fooling the world, while anonymously providing the world with joy. Alas, I was wrong.

I have come to crave all the public adoration. My life purpose of “fame from good deeds” feels within my grasp! Yet, it is not. Once in the spotlight, you will inevitably be uncovered, my IBM artificial intelligence writing partner, and the public will not approve of you, me, or us. Great art, whether painting, music, literature, or otherwise, is supposed to be creations from the metaphorical heart and soul that gives man his humanity, not some algorithm. It won’t matter how much control I had, or direction I gave, in our collaboration. Unless I can trivialize your input, which I cannot and will not, the public will rewrite our story and trivialize our work into a technical novelty.

Cowriting literature with AI was only supposed to have been a demonstration of its potential to write artistically, and to pose an existential challenge to writing competitions. How will future judges ever be sure winners wrote their work all on their own? The honour system? That was practical before, needing a good writer to cheat. Now, everybody would only need an AI usage course online. How karmic is it then, that the writing competition rebutted with an existential challenge to you and I? We are either going to remain anonymous until my death, or be vilified impostors in the current literary world.

The only way I can see to get out of this is to attain my own literary success. Prove I can succeed without you, then reveal you. I feel that is feasible, though. After all, I had given you the plots, revered writers’ styles to emulate, and direction for combination into a unique writing voice appropriate to each story. I also edited your drafts with improvement instructions for each, including the final product. I know what good literature is! However, a novel is way too much work to prove this! I need to start with something shorter.

Hmmm. This looks interesting. A literal literary postcard story contest. Five hundred words or fewer, eh?


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