The Mixtape of My Life Essay Contest

The Mixtape of My Life Essay Contest

Music can transport us back to a time and place faster than any other art form. That's the premise behind Billings, Montana native Robert K. Elder's newest project, "The Mixtape of My Life" -- a journal that helps people write their autobiography through their music collection. To celebrate the new book, Elder and his illustrator Rob Marvin are holding a book release party on Thursday, July 26th at the Pub Station in downtown Billings. Both Robs are partnering with us here at Waste Division to give local writers an opportunity to produce essays about how music has impacted their lives, and a chance for these essays to be published and read live at the event. You are invited to submit a piece of writing about an important piece of music during an important time in your life.



  • Essays must be no more than 500 words.
  • As you write your response, feel free to be as creative as possible. Use the following questions to get started, or come up with your own:
  1. Is there an artist or song you can't you listen to because of a past relationship?
  2. Was there any music forbidden in your home? What was it, why was it banned, and how did you listen to it anyway?
  3. Who would you like to sing the story of your life? List some titles for this biographical album.
  • Three winners will receive the opportunity to read their essay live at The Pub Station in downtown Billings on July 26th, 2018 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. 
  • All winners will receive a bundle of Waste Division stickers and a Waste Division t-shirt. The top essay will receive a $50 gift card from The Pub Station that can be used toward the purchase of tickets to any event. The two runners-up will receive movie night vouchers to Art House Cinema & Pub also in downtown Billings. We will also choose a couple of honorable mentions to be published on the website.
  • Contest Deadline: June 15, 2018


2017 Robert K Elder portrait by Greg Rothstein.jpg

ROBERT K. ELDER (@robertkelder) is a tech and media executive in Chicago, and the author or editor of eight books. He is a native of Billings, Montana, and graduated from Billings Senior High School (Go Broncs!). He work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Paris Review, and many other publications. This book was started on a road trip to Terre Haute, Indiana, and completed on a road trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway, written on the back of tray liners from Krispy Kreme donuts. (Thanks to the employees of Krispy Kreme in Blowing Rock, North Carolina—coincidentally the hometown of author Tom Robbins.) . Visit for more information and share your stories at or via Twitter using @mixtapemylife.

rob marvin.jpg

ROB MARVIN is a writer, illustrator, and sculptor from Billings, Montana (and also a graduate of Billings Senior High). His work has appeared in the anthology When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Films with Killer Animals, on the horror site Dread Central, and the blogs The Montana Mancave Massacre and From Midnight with Love.


The Pub Station

Art House Cinema & Pub

Also, a special thanks to our friend and talented writer Anna Paige for all of her help!
Billings Art Brew - Episode 19 - Phillip Griffin

Billings Art Brew - Episode 19 - Phillip Griffin