In an already glutted reality television market comes a new offering this fall: Project Write Stuff. Twelve aspiring writers compete to win a book deal, a year’s supply of coffee, a cat-a-day desk calendar, but best of all: exposure. After the failure of Project Diamond Cutters, the network is desperate to repeat the success that followed Project Pickle This. The all-star judges include author Philip Booth, whose novel’s protagonist shared a name with the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, a coincidence that shook him to his core; literary agent Marie Hickman, who rejected the 2018 blockbuster, Vampires Who Love Like People, the highest grossing memoir in history; and book blogger Pete S., who brags that he used galleys to subdivide his apartment.
Project Write Stuff follows the traditional formula, starting with twelve contestants who face weekly challenges and the threat of elimination. Though eleven of the contestants described themselves as fiction writers with several novels in the drawers of their minds, there was a lone poet in the mix. Xavier, who describes himself as a “longform experimental poet who proudly uses synesthesia and dyslexia to color [his] work,” eagerly exclaimed in the introductory segments, “Fiction is over. Readers are looking for a new experience and I know that I have what it takes to redefine what poetry means in America. People might say they hate poetry, but they just haven’t experienced the Xavierian Epic, a form I created while I worked on my MFA.”
Each week the contestants are faced with a new challenge, their first being to craft a short story in any style. Upon receiving their challenge, the group was given thirty minutes to draft, and a budget of $100 for supplies, which most used to purchase mini pies, while pocketing the change. Back in the workroom, each writer was provided with a typewriter, word processor, and HP laptops, leading to eye rolling and scoffs by many who sighed audibly as they searched for Microsoft Word.