MASH Magazine Issue 2 - Page 2

EDITOR’S NOTE IN 500 WORDS T he Mash Stories writing competition is truly underway. In the last three months we’ve seen another flurry of great submissions: the keywords this time around – Andromeda, democracy, dentist – certainly didn’t put people off! What is Bitcoin? By Brian Crain, Founder of Epicenter Bitcoin Bitcoin is a decentralized, global digital currency. If you don’t know what that means, no problem. It takes a while to wrap your head around it. But once you have done, you might just join those who believe that Bitcoin is the most important innovation since the internet. It’s also a global thing and sending money to some remote corner of Africa is just as easy, cheap and fast as sending it to the person sitting right next to you (as long as there is internet). With Bitcoin, you can be your own bank and you take control of your own money. Bitcoin is money, so you can use it in the same way. You can buy a pizza, furniture, your coffee or even a space flight with Virgin Galactic using Bitcoin. The number of businesses that accept it, ranging from small local stores to major e-commerce sites, is growing rapidly. But what makes people really excited about Bitcoin is something else. It’s a revolution that’s breaking up the outdated, rusty and corrupt world of banking and replacing it with something that is open, decentralized, efficient, impartial and that knows no borders. And you can become part of it too. Bitcoin is not issued or controlled by a government. There is no central company, committee or authority that sets up arbitrary rules or abuses the system for their own profit. No banks or credit card companies take a cut from your transactions. Instead, control is with the individual. When you send bitcoin, it’s always person-toperson, so no one can tell you what to do and what not to do. so, you’ll have seen the Breaking Bad-inspired article. Well, cooking up a short story is just as complicated, just as fine an art. To continue with the cooking analogy, I find it’s like making a fine stock: you start with certain ingredients, you chop them up and bring them together, then let them simmer for a while – and your final result should be a delicious, concentrated reduction. One thing I’m finding fascinating about the Mash concept is how it forces you to question your every sentence. You really get to understand not just what is important to your story, but also what is important to you. The way you are forced to remove so many phrases that you were proud of, so that you can round off the story adequately in 500 words. The way you have to shift things around, deleting one thing here so that you can add something more crucial in another place. Most of all, the word limit makes you realize just how sparing you can be with language and still get your point across – you realise how little you actually need. And that’s what this competition is like. In attempting to write for Mash, I’ve found that the genius of the competition is this: the exercises you go through as an author to respond to the challenge make you a better writer. First of all, you write, and you maybe leave it a while before going back to your story. Then you edit, because you’ve had a little time to think about it. So you improve your editing skills, and then you churn out a better story. This version, because it’s such an improvement on your last, is more difficult for you to edit. So you have to become an even better writer to make sure that the second, third or fourth edit is finally satisfactory. Put simply, with Mash Stories, you teach yourself something new at every step, in every competition. This doesn’t mean that a 500-word short story has to be linguistically boring, though. The satisfaction of finding the perfect word to replace a whole sentence is huge. That vital adverb can speak volumes; the rule of “show, don’t tell” has never been more applicable, or necessary. This quarter, another of our judges presented their inspiration piece. Jennifer Harvey’s The Technician Has Eyes of Deepest Blue is dreamy, introspective and beautifully written. You can read the winning and shortlisted stories from 2014’s second competition in this Mash Magazine (as well as Jennifer’s story) and online. Hopefully you’ve been reading the Mash blog. If Why not buy some bitcoins (if you’re in the US visit As ever, to find out more about Mash Stories, to vote for the shortlisted stories, to enter the current competition, or to find out how you can help us out, please visit our website –, if not,, see what you can buy with bitcoins on BitPremier, find a local Bitcoin meetup group, and of course, don’t forget to donate a bit to Mash Stories. Visit for more information Cheryl Whittaker Chief Editor and Judge at Mash Stories 3