Flash Fiction and Lucha

I will be participating in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest again this year, which kicks off at the end of July. In previous NYC Midnight Contests, I have placed very well, even reaching the top 25 of more than 700 contestants in my first Flash Fiction Contest.

Flash Fiction is something I enjoy immensely. You may or may not know that I am the reigning and undisputed North American Lucha Libro Champion from 2014 and through a strange turn of events, I may be the only official North American Lucha Libro Champion to ever exist.

You see, Lucha Libro is an event from Peru in which aspiring writers don masks, are given three random words and set before a laptop connected to a projector. They then have five minutes to write a story that integrates the three words they were given. In Peru, the winner is published following the contest and the losers are demasked.

When I read about this event in Peru I rushed to a local bookstore and tried to convince the owner to run with the idea and adapt it for Phoenix — after all, Mexico runs deep in our cities culture and Lucha Libre is a cultural idea that most people from Phoenix would immediately relate to. Their calender was full for events, but a local art space called The Firehouse picked up the idea of the event and ran with it. They reached out to the Peruvian owners of the intellectual property and requested a chance to do the event in Phoenix.

The originators consented to allow The Firehouse to do the show, free of royalties, for one night. If the Firehouse wanted to do the show again, they’d have to pay.

So, you may see where this is going.

I ended up competing in the event as “La Biblioteca Wrecker” and winning. I think I may have approached the event more seriously that some of the the other writers- I was telling a friend who was also competing that I had been running “wind sprints” in which I chose a random word and wrote a piece of microfiction in one minute. They were sufficiently intimidated. I wrote the fullest extent of my abilities, and won in every round. The ironic part of me winning is that one of the judges is an editor for a local literary publication that has sent me more rejection letters than I care to count, but he seemed genuinely moved by some of my work on stage that night. It was edifying but also somewhat hollow — The event felt rough around the edges and the hosts and judges had trouble making the event about the writers and writing rather than about themselves. Regardless, the Firehouse chose afterwards to not do the show again (nor to publish the chapbook of the winning works, I may add). As of this moment, there is a wrestling belt over the television in my living room declaring me the 2014 Lucha Libro Champion and I have never had my mask removed. Should the event spring up in an official capacity anywhere in North America, I will be sure to arrive to defend my belt.