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So there are lots of different kinds of writing programs out there. Depending on your location and availability, most are worth applying to because we could all stand to get paid to hang out somewhere and write on our own for a little while.

But how about shopping? As part of its twenty-fifth birthday, that great temple of consumerism, Legos, and fried walleye, the Mall of freaking America, is now sponsoring its very own Writer-in-Residence program.

According to the Mall folks:

The Writer-in-Residence Contest will give a special scribe the chance to spend five days deeply immersed in the Mall atmosphere while writing on-the-fly impressions in their own words. The contest winner will stay in an attached hotel for four nights, receive a $400 gift card to buy food and drinks and collect a generous honorarium for the sweat and tears they’ll put into their prose.

“Deeply immersed in the Mall atmosphere”? Hotel? Gift card for the food court? “Generous honorarium”? Sounds like a no-brainer. Let’s just say that the impressions garnered from people-watching, whether it be the packs of teenagers roaming the amusement park or the busloads of foreigners wandering dazedly about, are likely worth their weight in gold. Or cheese curds.

Applications are due March 10th.

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