I am about to launch into one of the craziest things I have ever done: To participate in “The World’s Most Notorious Literary Marathon.” This is the Three-Day Novel Contest, which is exactly what it sounds like.
You write a novel.
In three days.
(check out #3DNC on twitter)
To make matters even more exciting, 6 members of my artists’ fellowship group are also participating in this gloriously insane weekend. Three others are writing new novels from scratch, one is finishing a novel-in-progress, and one is using the time for visual art. Four of us women, will be spending the time in a little cabin in the woods, with electricity but without indoor plumbing, writing and painting all day and all night, trying not to kill each other, trying to produce masterpieces under artificially adverse (or ideal?) circumstances.
What’s wrong with us?!?
I can’t wait.
Here are a few more details about what each of us plans to do, then some chat about how we’re getting ready.
– Two members of the group are actually, officially participating in the 3-Day Novel Contest. They have paid the entrance fee, planned their plots, and are ready to go.
– One other member and I have not paid the fee, and are therefore not officially participating (and won’t be sending in our MSS to the contest at the end) in order to have a bit more freedom to continue writing after the time, revise significantly, and so for.
– One other member has been writing a lovely fantasy novel for, oh, about two years now. She reads a chapter each month at our meetings. Last meeting, we read three chapters out loud, in parts, and it’s getting pretty tense! Her story is magnificent and gripping; I do hope she gets it all drafted this weekend.
– And then the sixth member, as I mentioned above, is using the time to make visual art.
So, then, how am I preparing for this madness? Well, besides grocery shopping and packing all the stuff for such rugged, hormonal conditions, I have been planning the plot of this book for just about a year now. I started writing it last summer and got a few chapters done, but then put it aside and realized I needed to make some serious character changes. So I will be starting afresh, writing all new sentences. After the weekend is over, I may go back to my earlier drafts and see if any material could be reused.
And then I’ve written an outline of the book, with a few sentences describing the action and themes of each chapter.
I started writing chapter summaries, but didn’t get very far. I wanted to write out summaries for every chapter, especially so I could do all the necessary research beforehand, but I really couldn’t prioritize this over teaching, scholarly writing, and daily life (read: cooking). I know some people plan out their stories in great detail, and even go so far as to plan out how many hours to write each day and what to accomplish in those hours! I’m totally not that organized. I’ll just start writing at midnight tomorrow night, go for a while until I fall asleep, and follow my body’s rhythms that way all weekend. Plus there’s the complication of 3 other women sharing a very small and smelly space!
What, then, am I writing about? Well, hm. I usually don’t like telling anybody anything about what I’m writing until it’s done. I think that kind of freeze me up. I’ve only told my sisters the plot of this one. Suffice it to say it’s contemporary, dystopic, and very slightly (only very slightly) sci-fi. It’s a commentary on the lost nature of Millenials. It’s an exploration of the Via Affirmativa. It’s an angsty first-person narrative of insecurity and self-discovery. It’ll probably be absolutely awful.
But there you have it! On Monday evening, we troop in from the woods and wherever to meet up and share our work. If I’m still alive, I’ll blog again next week to tell you how it went. Don’t hold your breath!