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Monday, February 24, 2020

Mistakes were made - 20 word fiction

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The year 2020 reminds us of the phrase: Hindsight is 20/20. So we invite you to look back on your life and tell us about something that, in hindsight, you would have done differently.

Your story may involve something tragic or trivial, serious or silly. Any kind of mistake is welcome. (These things aren’t always “mistakes,” per se, so we’re using the word broadly.)

The phrase “mistakes were made” is a devious use of the passive voice to deflect blame off the person making the statement, who is probably the maker of the mistakes. President Ulysses S. Grant used the phrase in 1876 in an address to Congress, and it’s been a classic fallback for politicians ever since.

But you too have made mistakes and we want to hear about one of them—in 20 words or fewer.

The person who most impresses us with their mistake will win a Gotham class of their choosing.

As inspiration, here are a few examples:

Tight dress pants at Prom: if only I hadn’t tried to do a split with the principal.
Mason Rowlee

A whirl of things seemed more important, so I didn’t listen that day when my daughter most needed me.
Alvin Sarnoff

At 15, I killed a thing—the bunny I’d begged for that stunk up my room. Couldn’t find the food.
Natalie Bevilacqua

The Details:

  • Submit a story about a mistake you made.
  • Entry must consist of no more than 20 words. Longer entries will be disregarded.
  • Entries must be submitted online by 11:59 pm Eastern Time, March 1, 2020.
  • Only online entries will be accepted.
  • Entry is free. Limit one entry per person.
  • Entry must be original and unpublished.
  • Entries will be judged on originality, quality, spelling, and grammar.
  • Gotham will post the winning entry at
  • The winner will be notified by March 17, 2020.


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