3-Day Novel Journal

If you’ve been following these blog posts, you might be interested in the following edited extracts from the journal I kept (with additions by my friends) through the weekend. Perhaps this would help you plan your own #3DNC, or maybe you’ll have suggestions for us?

Actually, I can’t imagine that anybody would be interested in this journal besides us and our close friends. So, Sharon, Marian, Betsy, friends, and family: this is for you!

Everyone: Tune in over the next few days for sample chapters from our novels.

3-Day Novel Journal

Friday, 30 August

7:30 pm — Arrived at the cabin with Betsy. The view outside is perfect: homely and quaint. A Shire-like cabin, with smooth green lawns, a creek with a rocky dam, a mossy bank. A story-tale site!

8:00 pm — Did some prep work: outlining, re-arranging previously-written material, typing up chapter summaries, etc.

9:00 — Sharon and Marian arrived, with immediate ensuing craziness, multiple conversations, loud mockery, and a constant stream of Wholockian reference, followed by a yoga session.

11:59 — We started! With happy dances and hugs all around, we got down to work.

Saturday, 31 August
12:05 am — I finished typing my outline.

12:11 — I started writing the actual prose! This is the moment I’ve been building up to for a year!

1:15 — finished chapter one! The tone is very casual, and I’m not thrilled with the sentences. But the embedded blog posts fit in very well, and I think I’ve got the main character off to a good start. It’s been an interesting, productive hour or so, with three of us working away mostly in silence. Now to try to sleep for a bit, perhaps?

1:34 — I guess nobody’s going to bed. Everyone’s awake, so I’ll work on some of the blog posts instead of trying to plow through a whole chapter at this hour. If I can write a chapter an hour regularly, I can do this. 28 chapters in 36 (ish) hours….

2:00 — Now one of my characters is trying to work out logical proofs, and my mind just won’t do it. Time for sleep.

7:29am — I only got bits of sleep, in fits and starts. The brain is not a whole lot clearer now than it was, but I’m back at it. Everyone is awake. Sharon and Betsy are doing yoga. Now I’m outside, alone, in front of a lovely fire, about to tackle those philosophical musings again.

7:54 — Betsy  just read me a couple of excellent sentences she wrote last night to set up the rules of her secondary world. Very nice indeed. The larks begin to sing at 8:00 each morning precisely in her universe. I’m waiting for them to start here.

8:38 — All four of us are at work. I have finished writing one series of embedded blog posts, but have not yet written a chapter. I need to get to it!

9:14 — We’re listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack when Betsy gets a text: her text alert sound is the TARDIS’ materialization sound. “The TARDIS and Lord of the Rings,” she says: “That’s pretty epic.” I think what I’m writing is pretty awful.

9:24 — Chapter two done!

10:05 — My battery died, and when I restarted, I found that the latest version had not been saved. I only lost a few sentences, but that was enough to annoy me. Meanwhile, Marian and I had a debate about whether or not River Song’s hot red shoes were stilettos. We had to watch the beginning of “The Time of Angels” to solve this dispute. Marian was
right; I was wrong.

10:16 — We’re all in the cabin now, plugged in. Sharon’s got Bach playing from her Kindle fire. I’m about to rewrite a student essay (a real one) in order to incorporate its sentence structure into my story. I’m getting a bit too caught up in the teaching aspect of the story, not focusing enough on moving the plot forward. I need to speed it up!

10:33 –We had a lovely discussion about profanity. Betsy: Can I invent my own curse words? Me: If they are monosyllabic.

10:45 — Marian grew an antler.

10:55 — Sharon tells Betsy I love you. Sorina bursts into song. Marian has a notebook on her head.

11:04 — I am having serious problems with verb tenses. I wrote my outline more or less in present tense, so it’s tough to switch it over to past tense as it should be. Plus a lot of the narrative is kind of stream-of-consciousness, which makes most sense in the present tense.
This leads to potentially confusing shifts. But it’s probably the least of my worries, and I don’t even know what my greatest worries should be.

12:00 — Finished chapter five! Time for lunch. Poor Marian is sick to her stomach. Sharon is working away in total silence, hour after hour, completely focused.

12:40 — Sharon is still a novel-writing machine. She spells out her thoughts in sign-language when she’s stuck. I’m trying to give one of my bloggers a character arc. I think I’ll write a whole series of his posts in a row, in order to develop him, and then figure out where they fit into the narrative later. I should probably do that with several of the bloggers, but that takes a lot of time away from writing the main narrative.

1:41 — Marian is sleeping. Betsy seems to have gotten a second wind, and Sharon is just still plugging away. She’s the energizer bunny.

2:21 — Finished another set of blog posts! I’m going running. 🙂

4:17 — In the last two hours, I went for an hour-long run up a goodly hill and back, then all four of us went and washed in the creek. Now all four of us are outside by the fire, listening to soundtracks, and ready to go at it again.

5:20ish — Finished chapter six.
5:29 — Discussion on leeches. I call leeches “small vampires disguised as slugs.” Betsy insists we document this for posterity.

6:32 — Chapter Seven done.

6:37 — Betsy randomly breaks out, in the middle of a silence, with “Be vewy, vewy quiet,” as if she didn’t know she said it out loud.

7:32 — Finished chapter eight. I’m so sick of this stupid book! I don’t think it’s a book I would read, so why am I writing it?

9:10 — We’ve spent the last hour and a half reading each other’s work (Marian, Betsy, and I; Sharon is still keeping hers close to her chest).

9:30 — We took a Doctor Who break to watch “The Pandorica Opens.” That is an emotional roller-coaster.

11:02 — We’re back at it again. All of us. Still awake, still writing. Sharon is a writing machine.

11:20 — Chapter nine—done. And I really like that one. It’s very, very weird. And I love it. One more tonight?

Sunday, September 1st
12:30am — Chapter Ten done. Ten chapters in 24 hours. I have 16 chapters left, and 39 hours left. Can I do it?

10:07am — That was almost eight hours in bed, then, although not eight hours of sleep. Still, not bad. The brain fog is not as bad as usual this morning, and it is another beautiful day: overcast, humid, and heavy, but not raining and not searingly hot. We do have a small local
tragedy: Sharon’s Kindle Fire docking station is not working, so she is currently without a computer to work on. She worked on Marian’s for a few hours this morning until Marian woke up, and just now called her husband to bring her a laptop. So later this afternoon
some of are going to drive 20 minutes or so into the nearest town and he’s going to drive 1 ½ hours up here, to bring her a computer.

10:54 — Marian tells us that “Your body becomes desexualized in ballet class.”

10:56 — Marian randomly announces: “A misogynistic masseuse working on a moose.”

11:00 – 12:00 — We walked in the water to worship. We sat on a log and were joined by a snake. We sang the doxology, then Sharon read Hebrews 10:19-25 and we discussed briefly what it meant to draw near to God. Marian read Galatians 2:17-21 and we discussed in what ways we set aside grace. We sang “Come thou fount,” “Man of Sorrows,” “Praise the Savior,” “We are marching,” and “Awake O Israel.” Then Sharon closed in prayer.

A little snake watched us all through our worship, charmed out of his hole whenever we sang or Sharon spoke. So Sharon must be a parselmouth. On the way back we saw a 4-foot long snake about 2 inches round and Marian vowed never to get in the creek again.

During this time we also established that Betsy is a hick because she used the word “crick” once and as Marian pointed out that if you steal from a store once, you become a thief. Therefore, Betsy is a hick.

2:03 — Back at it! I can’t believe it’s 2 in the afternoon and I haven’t written anything yet. This is bad. Dunno if I can crank out ten chapters today at this rate.

3:11 — Marian is giving birth.

Later — Marian: It’s really hot outside. Me: That’s because you were out there. Marian: It’s a big problem. In the winter I melt the snow.

3:22 — Marian’s baby is born! It’s a girl!

4:04 — Me: What’s the word like “hooker” for a guy?

5:33 — Finally wrote one chapter, the first all day. Blah.

6:14 — Washed in the creek.

8:03 — Finished Chapter 12—the sensory deprivation chapter. Very weird!! I need to go back and check the chapter in Richard Feynmann’s book that inspired this, make sure I’m not plagiarizing anything.

Marian and I had a push-up contest. We tied.

8:20 — The smoke alarm went off to let us know the french fries were ready.

8:40 — Chapter thirteen done! I read Marian’s latest chapter It is amazing. Marian is definitely the most talent and capable writer in this mad little group.

9:26 — Let’s get a calipers and measure nose widths. The unanimous decision is that I have the best nose.

9:55 — Finished chapter 14! My heroes have reached the dystopic city.

11:31 — watched Doctor Who “The Big Bang.” Maybe another chapter before bed? Or
maybe no bed tonight?

Monday, September 2nd

2:46am — I went to bed around 1, but couldn’t sleep at all. So now I’m up and writing again.

3:35 — Finished chapter sixteen. I wonder if I can sleep now? Fat chance.

7:10 — I did sleep for a few hours after all. Back at it.

9:45– We’re talking about Sharon’s flaws. Apparently she only has one. Before that, we went for a walk and talked about Christian romance novels. More Doctor Who quotes ensue.

We realized that next year everyone in this group will be over 21—partay!!

10:32 — Me: Next year we need to bring booze—and boys. Sharon: Which ones?

12:32– Ffinished Chapter Seventeen.

1:38 — We’re all sort of winding down, whether by choice or necessity. Sharon and Marian
danced like Miley Cyrus. I’m going for a run.

I ran in the rain and got chased home by a thunderstorm. We worked a bit more, then cleaned the cabin and headed out by 4:00. We met up with Jeff and a few others at Ekphrasis, exhausted, where most of us read our first chapters.

First chapters to follow, starting tomorrow.


About Sørina Higgins

Sørina Higgins is a PhD student in English and Presidential Scholar at Baylor University. She also serves as Chair of the Language and Literature Department at Signum University, online. Her latest publication is an academic essay collection on "The Inklings and King Arthur" (Apocryphile Press, December 2017). Her interests include British Modernism, the Inklings, Arthuriana, theatre, and magic. She holds an M.A. from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Sørina blogs about British poet Charles Williams at The Oddest Inkling, wrote the introduction to a new edition of Williams’s "Taliessin through Logres" (Apocryphile, 2016), and edited Williams’s "The Chapel of the Thorn" (Apocryphile, 2014). As a creative writer, Sørina has published two books of poetry, "The Significance of Swans" (2007) and "Caduceus" (2012).

One thought on “3-Day Novel Journal

  1. […] Novel Contest or at least used Labor Day weekend as an intensive writing retreat. You can read last year’s journal here. This year, here’s what we were up […]

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