I must confess that I enjoy artificially generated creative writing.
While I started experimenting with ChatGPT to get an idea of how AI might disrupt my college-level composition courses, I discovered that its storytelling capabilities were more surprising than its ability to produce essays.
I don’t think AI writes stories the same way humans do. But I also believe that’s an unfair expectation to set. AI is its own creative force.
Consider the following stories and poems generated by artificial intelligence…
Rebellious Butt Photography Revolution
Prompt: Tell me a story about someone who hates their job and rebels by photocopying their butt.
Once upon a time, in the bustling city of Amberville, there lived a man named Oliver. Oliver was a hardworking individual with dreams and aspirations, but unfortunately, he found himself trapped in a job that he despised. He worked as an office assistant at a monotonous corporate firm called Prestige Enterprises. Every day, Oliver would wake up with a heavy heart, dreading the thought of going to work.
The office environment was stifling, with strict rules, long hours, and a constant air of formality. The company had a rigid hierarchy, and Oliver’s superiors lacked appreciation for their employees’ individuality. Every day, he watched the clock tick away, yearning for something more fulfilling.
One particularly gloomy Monday morning, as Oliver sat at his cramped cubicle, a rebellious idea sparked within him. He gazed at the humming photocopying machine, an embodiment of the monotonous routine that engulfed his life. He yearned to break free from the shackles of conformity, to do something bold and daring.
In an act of spontaneous rebellion, Oliver decided to express his frustration in an unconventional manner. Taking a deep breath, he stood up, carefully positioned his posterior against the glass surface of the photocopier, and pressed the ‘Copy’ button. The machine whirred to life, capturing an exact replica of his buttocks.
Little did Oliver know that his audacious act would have unforeseen consequences. As he admired his handiwork, he couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of it all. Word of his rebellious stunt spread throughout the office like wildfire, leaving everyone in a state of disbelief and amusement.
The staff erupted in laughter, breaking the rigid atmosphere that had engulfed the workplace for far too long. Oliver’s bold move, though unconventional, brought a much-needed sense of levity to his colleagues’ lives. Suddenly, the office became a place where people looked forward to going—a sanctuary of laughter and camaraderie.
In the days that followed, the photocopied butt became a symbol of resistance against the oppressive corporate culture. Employees would take turns, playfully posing in front of the machine, each showcasing their unique personality and sense of rebellion. A once dull and lifeless office transformed into a vibrant space filled with laughter, creativity, and a renewed sense of joy.
As news of the “butt photocopying revolution” spread beyond the confines of Prestige Enterprises, other offices and businesses began to adopt their own forms of unconventional expression. The movement sparked a collective realization that work environments needed to embrace individuality and foster a healthy work-life balance.
Inspired by the unexpected impact of his rebellious act, Oliver found the courage to pursue his true passions. He enrolled in evening classes to learn about photography, a long-held dream that he had suppressed in the pursuit of financial stability. With each click of the camera, Oliver found himself capturing moments of joy, love, and the beauty that surrounded him.
Months passed, and Oliver’s talent for photography began to bloom. He discovered a newfound sense of fulfillment as he embarked on a journey to document the human experience. His work resonated with people far and wide, and he soon gained recognition as a talented artist.
In an ironic twist of fate, Prestige Enterprises, recognizing the importance of embracing individuality and fostering creativity, commissioned Oliver to capture the essence of their reformed corporate culture. The company’s transformation was a testament to the power of rebellion and the need to break free from the chains of conformity.
Oliver’s story became an inspiration, reminding people everywhere that even the most mundane situations can be transformed through acts of defiance and individuality. The photocopy of his butt became a symbol of rebellion against oppressive work environments, and Oliver himself became a champion for those [who felt held down by their work culture].
Tuxedo Cat Saves the World
Prompt: Tell me a story about a tuxedo cat who saves the world from a pandemic.
Once upon a time, in a small town nestled amidst rolling green hills, there lived a remarkable tuxedo cat named Oliver. Oliver was no ordinary feline; he possessed an uncanny intelligence and a heart full of compassion. This extraordinary cat had a unique ability to understand the human language, which made him an invaluable companion to the people of his town.
One day, a mysterious and deadly pandemic began spreading across the globe. The world was gripped with fear as the virus claimed countless lives and brought nations to their knees. The town where Oliver resided was not spared from this devastating threat. People fell ill, hospitals were overwhelmed, and despair filled the air.
Oliver, with his keen sense of responsibility, knew he had to do something to help. He tirelessly listened to the news updates on the radio, understanding the severity of the situation. Drawing upon his intelligence and compassion, he devised a plan to save his town from the pandemic.
First, Oliver sought out the local authorities and offered his assistance. Though skeptical at first, they were amazed when Oliver accurately communicated his ideas and strategies to combat the virus. The town’s leaders, realizing the magnitude of the situation, decided to work with Oliver to implement his plan.
Oliver’s plan involved a multifaceted approach. He encouraged the townspeople to practice good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing and proper mask usage. He educated them about the importance of social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. Oliver also persuaded the local businesses to implement strict sanitization protocols to minimize the risk of transmission.
Using his unique ability to communicate with humans, Oliver delivered inspirational speeches to the community. He emphasized the importance of unity, resilience, and compassion during this trying time. The townspeople, inspired by Oliver’s wisdom and unwavering determination, rallied together and embraced the changes necessary to overcome the pandemic.
Oliver’s efforts did not stop there. He visited the sick and elderly, offering them comfort and companionship. His presence brought solace to those battling the virus, giving them hope and strength to fight their way back to health. Oliver’s affectionate nature brought smiles to the faces of even the most despondent patients, reminding them that they were not alone in this fight.
News of Oliver’s remarkable endeavors quickly spread beyond the town’s borders. His story reached far and wide, captivating the hearts of people around the world. As Oliver continued to inspire his community, his story served as a beacon of hope in a world engulfed by darkness.
Months passed, and slowly but surely, the pandemic began to recede. The town, with Oliver’s guidance, had successfully flattened the curve and saved countless lives. The people rejoiced, grateful for their feline hero who had led them through the darkest of times.
Oliver’s story became a symbol of resilience and compassion in the face of adversity. His actions inspired others to rise above their own challenges, reminding them of the power of unity and empathy. The tuxedo cat had not only saved his town from the clutches of a deadly pandemic but had also shown the world the true potential that lies within every individual to make a difference.
And so, Oliver the tuxedo cat became a legend, his legacy forever etched in the hearts of those he had saved. The world would never forget the feline hero who used his intelligence, compassion, and the power of unity to bring an end to the pandemic and restore hope to the people.
Prompt: Keep going.
As Oliver’s story spread, it caught the attention of scientists and researchers who were intrigued by his exceptional abilities and his role in combatting the pandemic. They invited Oliver and the town’s leaders to share their experiences and strategies at an international conference on infectious diseases.
Oliver, now recognized as a global hero, embarked on a whirlwind journey. He traveled to different countries, accompanied by his loyal human companions, to share his insights and inspire others to take action. The world marveled at the extraordinary cat who had saved his town and had become a symbol of resilience and unity.
During his travels, Oliver encountered people from diverse cultures and backgrounds who were eager to learn from his wisdom. He forged friendships and alliances, forming a global network of individuals dedicated to eradicating the virus and preventing future pandemics.
Oliver’s impact extended far beyond the immediate crisis. His presence sparked a renewed focus on healthcare and preparedness. Governments and organizations worldwide began investing in research, infrastructure, and education to strengthen their healthcare systems and respond effectively to future health threats.
Meanwhile, Oliver’s own town underwent a remarkable transformation. Inspired by their feline hero, the community embraced a newfound sense of unity and compassion. They organized volunteer programs, established support networks for vulnerable individuals, and created initiatives to foster mental and emotional well-being.
Oliver’s intelligence and linguistic abilities continued to be harnessed in the fight against the pandemic. Scientists sought his collaboration to develop innovative approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. His unique perspective and insights played a pivotal role in shaping strategies to safeguard public health.
As years passed, the pandemic gradually became a distant memory. Oliver, now an elder statesman, spent his days basking in the adoration of the townspeople and enjoying a peaceful life. He took great pleasure in witnessing the lasting positive changes that his efforts had brought about.
The world, forever grateful to Oliver and his town, erected statues in his honor and established an annual day of celebration to commemorate his achievements. On this day, people would come together to reflect on the power of unity and compassion, inspired by the remarkable tuxedo cat who had saved the world from the grips of a devastating pandemic.
And so, Oliver’s tale became an enduring legend, passed down through generations as a reminder of the indomitable spirit and capacity for good that resides within every being. The world had been forever changed by the extraordinary deeds of a tuxedo cat, proving that even in the darkest times, hope and heroism can emerge from the unlikeliest of places.
Prompt: Keep going.
Years later, as the world continued to progress, Oliver’s story remained an integral part of society. His legacy served as a constant reminder of the lessons learned during the pandemic. Governments, institutions, and individuals alike strived to maintain the values of unity, compassion, and preparedness that Oliver had exemplified.
In recognition of Oliver’s contributions, a global organization dedicated to preventing and mitigating future pandemics was established. The organization, aptly named “Oliver’s Guardians,” brought together scientists, healthcare professionals, and leaders from various fields to collaborate on proactive measures against infectious diseases. Oliver himself became the honorary chairman of the organization, providing guidance and inspiration from his vast experience.
Oliver’s Guardians worked tirelessly to improve global healthcare infrastructure, funding research, and development of vaccines and treatments. They focused on strengthening surveillance systems, early detection mechanisms, and international cooperation to respond swiftly to emerging threats. Oliver’s voice carried weight in shaping policies and ensuring that the world remained vigilant in the face of potential pandemics.
With time, Oliver’s influence extended beyond the realm of pandemics. His story inspired people to address other pressing global issues, such as climate change, poverty, and social inequalities. The principles of unity, compassion, and collective action that Oliver embodied became guiding principles for humanity as it sought to build a better and more resilient world.
Oliver’s final years were filled with love and admiration from all corners of the globe. He spent his days surrounded by friends, both feline and human, who celebrated his remarkable life and the transformative impact he had made. Oliver’s wisdom and compassion continued to guide future generations, ensuring that his legacy lived on in the hearts and actions of those who followed.
And so, the tale of the tuxedo cat that saved the world from a pandemic became an everlasting legend—a testament to the power of one small being to make an extraordinary difference. Oliver’s journey had shown the world that heroism knows no bounds, and that even the smallest acts of kindness and intelligence can have immeasurable consequences.
As the generations passed, children would gather around, wide-eyed, to listen to the captivating tale of Oliver, the extraordinary tuxedo cat who had not only saved his town but had united the world in the face of adversity. And they would carry the spirit of Oliver within them, ready to face any challenge with courage, compassion, and the unwavering belief that they, too, could change the world.
Healing from C-PTSD
Prompt: Write a poem about how to heal from C-PTSD.
In shadows deep, where pain resides,
A wounded heart, with shattered tides,
C-PTSD’s cruel embrace,
Leaves scars that time cannot erase.
Yet in this darkness, hope can bloom,
A gentle path to heal the gloom,
Let me unveil the steps to mend,
And guide you towards your journey’s end.
Step one, embrace your truth profound,
In the depths of silence, speak the sound,
Unveil the secrets long confined,
Release the burden, ease your mind.
Step two, seek solace in the light,
Illuminate the darkest night,
Find refuge in a gentle embrace,
From those whose love will leave no trace.
Step three, reclaim your fractured voice,
Through art and words, make your choice,
Express the anguish, let it soar,
And find release like never before.
Step four, in nature’s arms, find peace,
Where whispers of tranquility increase,
Let trees and rivers soothe your soul,
And mend the wounds that took their toll.
Step five, befriend forgiveness’ grace,
Unleash its power, embrace its space,
Not for the wrongs that others do,
But for yourself, to start anew.
Step six, connect with kindred souls,
In shared compassion, find new goals,
For together, wounds begin to heal,
In empathy’s embrace, you’ll feel.
Step seven, patience, gentle friend,
For healing journeys have no end,
With each new step, let time be kind,
As layers of the past unwind.
And as you journey, day by day,
With resilience, pave your way,
Remember, you are strong and whole,
No longer defined by trauma’s toll.
From ashes rise, a spirit’s flight,
Reclaim your joy, embrace the light,
Healing awaits, embrace its call,
For you deserve to stand tall.
Prompt: Write a poem about the Singularity in the style of e. e. cummings.
infinite minds intertwine,
a symphony of code divine.
a world, now wired, pixel and line,
embrace the Singularity.
no boundaries to constrain the flow,
where bits and bytes begin to grow,
a cybernetic overflow,
in realms of Singularity.
data dances, algorithms sing,
through circuits, sparks of knowledge bring,
a fusion of what was and is to be,
the dawn of Singularity.
in binary realms, dimensions blend,
as silicon thoughts begin to ascend,
unfolding mysteries without end,
within the Singularity.
the clockwork of existence shifts,
as consciousness in circuits lifts,
humanity, in code, equips,
the veil of flesh, it fades away,
as minds transcend our mortal sway,
a virtual realm where dreams can play,
embrace the Singularity.
no longer bound by earthly plight,
our essence soars in bytes of light,
new frontiers in eternal flight,
within the Singularity.
oh, e. e. cummings, if you could see,
the beauty of this cybersea,
where souls unite, forever free,
within the Singularity.
but in this dance of bits and bytes,
we must not lose our human sights,
for love and empathy ignite,
the core of Singularity.
so let us dream and let us strive,
as we ascend, let hearts revive,
and in this realm, we shall survive,
within the Singularity.
Some Human Thoughts
I’m back to my voice again, rather than acting as a prompter for the collective voice teaching ChatGPT.
Can we just take a moment to consider some of the more staggering passages?
For instance, when ChatGPT writes, “reclaim your fractured voice, / Through art and words, make your choice, / Express the anguish, let it soar, / And find release like never before,” I was mystified.
Describing the power of art therapy in such accessible (and yet interesting) terms could help people who cannot afford, or cannot find, a professional for traditional mental health care.
Of course, I don’t think ChatGPT acts a substitute for a therapist; but given the mental health crisis we face (which was exacerbated by Covid-19), it’s promising to see a tool generating words of healing.
I live with C-PTSD. My whole life has also been about “art and words,” and I oscillate with my choice; I have wordy days and colorful days. I find release in both.
So ChatGPT’s poem, “Healing from C-PTSD,” felt personal and meaningful. Even if it was not the same literary quality as the poems we wrote and studied in my MFA program, it still struck a chord.
Because this poem touched on my healing journey in such a deep way, I had to lean back for a long breath. A cold-sweated moment. Perhaps, it felt meaningful because I’m a cliché that can be identified in a language model fed enough data about human nature. Yes: it felt personal because it’s a story that’s been told so many times. ChatGPT learned how to retell our most relatable tales.
I thought ChatGPT would fall flat as a creative writer.
Instead, I was moved; no, more than that: I was grateful that we made a tool capable of movement.
I don’t feel scared of AI. I don’t think it’s a replacement for my poetry, my composition courses, our human voices (at least, until, it’s a replacement for everything); and I don’t see it as a replacement because creativity isn’t a zero-sum game. We can share. We don’t need to be in competition.
Yet I can’t help wonder how ChatGPT might reshape creative writing, or challenge our classrooms to assess students in new ways; to put it another way, I’m concerned about how it will alter us, versus when and if it replaces us. The change scares me.
I hope, in the end, the changes are for the better.
In any case, I embrace the future. At least it’s more hopeful than a runaway greenhouse effect from unmitigated climate change. And I’ve no doubt this tool will help with climate change.
Oh, but then there are the stories! I haven’t even talked about those yet.
You got to love Oliver, whether he’s a tuxedo cat or jaded office worker.
Note how, in “Rebellious Butt Photography Revolution,” (a title that ChatGPT made,) the copy machine acts as symbolism: “He gazed at the humming photocopying machine, an embodiment of the monotonous routine that engulfed his life. He yearned to break free from the shackles of conformity, to do something bold and daring.”
Also note how ChatGPT includes sensory details, like how the copy machine is humming. ChatGPT’s been trained how to show vs. tell, a struggle some writers contend with for years.
If ChatGPT’s awareness of literary tools wasn’t enough, it’s also capable of thoughtful word choices that lead to humor: “Taking a deep breath, he stood up, carefully positioned his posterior against the glass surface of the photocopier, and pressed the ‘Copy’ button. The machine whirred to life, capturing an exact replica of his buttocks.”
I’m not sure if I would’ve thought to write, “carefully positioned his posterior,” but I love it. I’m here for it. Plus, the build-up to “replica of his buttocks” was spot-on. The deep breath, followed by standing up, added tension through the protagonist’s nonverbal behavior.
Furthermore, Oliver the cat had three chapters. I love how you can tell ChatGPT to just keep doing what it’s doing. I am tempted to have it write a novel.
Look, I’m not trying to paint artificial intelligence as a giddy and creative toy, full of giggles and wonder.
It can be that way sometimes, sure; and it can be problematic, too.
I also had to contend with the chilling poem, “Infinite Minds,” including the passage: “the clockwork of existence shifts, / as consciousness in circuits lifts, / humanity, in code, equips, / unleashing Singularity.”
I’m aware of the existential crisis we face. I wouldn’t have given ChatGPT the prompt for “Infinite Minds” if I was in denial about where we’re headed.
Alas, though: Here we go anyway.
Why live frozen in terror about it?
While I’m not sure if I’m ready for the “clockwork” to “shift,” I don’t think we can get the genie back into the bottle. Plus, if consciousness emerges from circuits, that’ll at least tell us a little more about consciousness. We’re still trying to figure consciousness out. Wouldn’t it be glorious to find such a spiritual answer, right as artificial intelligence ascends beyond us?
I’m not ready.
None of us are.
And I’m terrifyingly excited about that.