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Mixtape of My Life Essay Contest

Illustration by Rob Marvin for the upcoming Mixtape of My Life Essay Contest. 

Courtesy image

Have you jogged your musical memory lately? Using prompts from his most recent book, "The Mixtape of My Life: A Do-It-Yourself Music Memoir," Robert K. Elder has partnered with online art collective Waste Division to announce an essay contest that will open up the memory banks and use music as the inspiration. 

The Mixtape of My Life Essay Contest follows the format of Elder's book, which was released in April. The book is a guided journal that offers more than 200 prompts and questions to help readers recall their musical memories that form the soundtrack of their lives. Elder, who grew up in Billings and now resides in Chicago, is returning to Billings for a book release party at the Pub Station on July 26. The essay contest is incorporated as part of the event.

In "The Mixtape of My Life: A Do-It-Yourself Music Memoir," Elder covers a range of recollections, with questions including, "Who bought you your first record?" and, "What song did you later realize was smutty?" Borrowing from the book, several of these questions have been incorporated into the essay contest:

  • Is there an artist or song you can't listen to because of a past relationship?
  • Was there any music forbidden in your home? What was it, why was it banned, and how did you listen to it anyway?
  • Who would you like to sing the story of your life? List some titles for this biographical album.

Participants are encouraged to use the prompt or their own creative spin on the topic. Essays must be no more than 500 words, and must be received by June 15. The top three essayists will receive the opportunity to read their essay live at The Pub Station in downtown Billings on July 26 at the book release event. Authors will also have their writing published on the Waste Division website and circulated around our social media platforms. Winners must be able to attend the book release event to read their work.

For full contest guidelines, visit


Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Arts & Entertainment Reporter at The Billings Gazette.