In many ways, 2022 continued a trend of discontent, dissociation, and divide across the world. We could spend countless hours and days, and pages upon pages dissecting the many ways that things continue to drift into entropy. But where’s the fun in that? The Prompt certainly has the stomach, brains, and backbone to delve into tough topics—and we certainly have not shied away from doing so, with gusto and guts-o—but that’s for another time.
Right now, I want to celebrate some highlights from the year. Because we made it. We made things. And the world is better for it.
We covered sports and politics and poetry, sometimes all at once. Interviews, both real and fake. Stories, from lighthearted and hilarious to heavyhearted and gutwrenching. We did it all. That’s what happens when you give creative people an outlet and just the smallest flicker of an idea. A sentence, a word, a phrase. Sometimes that’s all it takes to kickstart a classic.
Sometimes it takes a lot more elbow grease than that. Sometimes it takes hours of staring at a blank page and wishing your ideas would take shape, take flight, take a cue. Sometimes the end product is more mehhhh than masterpiece. But you know what? Something is better than nothing. And at least you showed up. At least you respected the gift, the craft, the process.
And in the end, if you keep showing up, keep tapping your fingers on the keyboard or scribbling in your notebook, something magical will happen. It always does.
And that’s why, collectively, this group of lovable misfits churned out so many original pieces, it’s almost unbelievable. I’m proud as punch. Look what you did, you little jerk(s)!
That’s an average of one new writer every 7 weeks. Pretty dope to continuously attract and find such remarkable people out there in this sick sad little world, don’t you think? Most of our new voices came in through Twitter, but a few are referrals from existing writers. Our team keeps growing, for no reason other than that writers want to write. We all have beautiful, magical ideas, we just need a place to put them. Let them live, for heaven’s sake.
It just goes to show—there’s hope. There’s light. Even when everything seems like a toxic cesspool of Covid germs, antidemocratic monsters, and soulless powermoney ghouls, the creative community is still out here THRIVING. And, you there, reading this post. You should join us.
The world might be ending, but that won’t stop us from making our fucking art.
You know who makes this all worth it? Our people. Our Sunday night Zoom meetings, where we share feedback and brainstorm ideas. Where we come up with new prompts and learn about each other from far and wide. We feed off each other, trafficking in good vibes. We are the OPPOSITE of energy vampires. Colin Robinson can’t touch The Prompt fam.
It’s corny as hell, but WE are why we do this. I could give a fuck about the whiny idiots not producing creative work, not putting themselves out there, not trying at all. Those people will always exist. They’re the villains from 80s movies, all grown up and still looking for self-contented smart kids to stuff into lockers. Cool life.
But our crew? We’re top notch. Kind, thoughtful, clever, interesting, dynamic, and fun. We’re open-minded and open-hearted. We’re accepting, but we have standards of what we’ll accept in writing and humanity. We keep doing this, we keep showing up, we keep hanging out because we fucking believe in each other. And I, for one, think that’s awesome.
Josh Bard, who produces so many clever, pithy, and utterly hilarious posts that he has effectively lapped the field. His quality and quantity of writing put me to absolute shame. I can’t tell you the number of evenings we are both on the couch—me, staring blankly at the TV while he is feverishly typing out his next banger. No excuses, no shortcuts. This kid just does the work. And there’s no secret, no trickery… doing the work is exactly why he’s so good. Here since DAY ONE, Josh is not just an OG. He is The OG.
My favorite Josh Bard piece of the year: Bachelorette Party to Saturn
Sarah Razner, who has written more short stories in the past year than I have in my entire life. Her consistency is beyond enviable. She writes with such pathos, such deep humanity, that every character she creates comes alive on the page. We love their names, their stories, and who they aspire to be. Always striving, always reaching, always looking for something more and bigger. We should bottle her kindness and sell it across the Eastern seaboard, where the rest of us could learn from her open, warm, utterly delightful demeanor.
My favorite Sarah Razner piece of the year: Greetings from the Disney Vault: Alice in Purgatory
Eric Mochnacz, who is more than just a #flirty #horrorbitch. Eric is, by far, the most improved writer in the whole squad. His writing is buoyant and full of life, and he’s put in the additional time and effort to channel that energy into not just pop culture referential pieces, but profound pieces on love, loss, relationships, and family. He has become more versatile, more courageous, and more powerful. I’m not sure what more you could ask for in a writer.
My favorite Eric Mochnacz piece of the year: Mopping the Floor: A Friday Night Clean-Up Job
Keven Balderas, whose prose and writing style feel like they come from another era. He creates artful, curious, and mysterious characters that keep you guessing and wondering and poking at their edges. What’s their motivation? Where did this guy come from? A voice of reason on every Sunday call, Keven brings a fresh perspective to everything he does.
My favorite Keven Balderas piece of the year: Are You Gonna Eat That? An Unconventional Wedding Toast
Dan Farkas, whose intelligence and empathy absolutely leap off the page. Of all our writers, Dan is the one whose voice it would be hardest for me to mimic because it is completely original and completely his own. It’s also completely delightful. After publishing his first piece with us this year, I knew Dan would be a massive addition to the roster. He’s thoughtful, reflective, and brings such style and execution. I’m also biased because Dan loves the Mets. You just have to like that guy.
My favorite Dan Farkas piece of the year: Ascension Song: The Untold Story of The Beatles
Jay Heltzer, who writes and communicates and shares with such an abundance of energy, you’d think he, himself was a trumpet, and not just a trumpet player. So witty. So funny. Such a command for language and word choice. Everything Jay writes feels deliberate. His style is exact. His jokes HIT. And if ever you need someone to safely bring your spirits from low to high, Jay is your guy. Every team should have a Jay.
My favorite Jay Heltzer piece of the year: To Dads & Memories: I Know Where I Was When
Devin Householder, who is by far the most likely to take chances in his writing. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the trust that Devin puts in me as an editor. He swings for the fences, and if something doesn’t work, he’s not bruised or disappointed to just chuck it in the trash folder and start anew. His attitude is what every writer and creative person should have. I’m still working on being more like him.
My favorite Devin Householder piece of the year: Autumn Leaves: Remembering the Singular Genius of Eva Cassidy
Dennis William, who has withstood the test of time with The Prompt. He’s lived in some pretty varied places, and brings his midwestern (though I forget if Kansas qualifies) sensibilities, his D.C. healthy skepticism, and Portland liberal idealism to every piece he writes. There’s both a humor and a moral depth to Dennis, and both of these attributes show up in everything he writes. He is funny, and heartfelt, and surprising. You never know what direction he might take a prompt, and that is truly my favorite thing.
My favorite Dennis William piece of the year: Happy Tattoosday: The Regular Reasons to Get A Tattoo
Natalie Brandt, whose snark, wit, and self-deprecation elevate every conversation. A secret nerd, Natalie mixes her knowledge of space and law and parenting and prose into a lethal concoction. Every piece she writes receives high marks. And every time she opens her mouth, it makes me laugh. She’s got both bark and bite, but if you’re on her team, you never have to worry about a thing. She’s a real one.
My favorite Natalie Brandt piece of the year: Hospital vs. Popsicle: A Journal Entry from Hell
Jillian Conochan, who is sneakily one of the best writers in the whole familia, but who spends most of her energy painstakingly managing our Twitter presence, no matter what nonsense Elon is doing that particular day. She selflessly shares and promotes everyone’s work, gets the community involved, and has found us more incredible writers than I could ever have dreamed possible. Also with us since DAY ONE, Jillian has molded and fired and glazed The Prompt with her own two hands for the past six years. We wouldn’t be here without her.
My favorite Jillian Conochan piece of the year: The Laziest Writer™ v. AI: POETRY Edition
A hard year for many. And when we turn the calendar to 2023, those challenges won’t magically melt away like snow. But we’ll still have our pens and laptops. We’ll still have our ideas. We’ll still have our Sunday night meetings. And we’ll still have this place and each other, where we can find sanctuary.