Remember when I said that I was afraid to start this blog because I might post something stupid? Or something that would come back to “bite me in the ass?”
This could well be one of those times.
The moon is blue tonight. The 3 Day Novel Contest starts at MIDNIGHT. Perhaps I’m already off my rocker.
This afternoon, I got to thinking and hoping that … maybe I can use this weekend as…a beginning of a whole new way of being. I’m feeling a need to…re-dedicate myself… yeah that’s it. To shake things up, shake things off.
A new dedication of myself to the craft and the writer’s life.
I feel that I HAVE been working hard, or (even better) working WELL, writing wise, these last few months, but things still seem to happen in fits and starts.
I want… still more discipline within myself, on the writing and the eating and the moving the bod fronts.
So, I sit here, ready to enter the 3DNC (3day Novel Contest) with a BLANK slate – which I have never done before and I think… This is good.
This is a REAL experiment for you.
And it could be more.
You can declare this night the beginning of a whole new year.
Like a new “school year” but with no school.
When we moved here, this was the plan. To get back to the writing and the reading. To put myself into a sort of “self-directed” MFA.
And I HAVE been working on it. The novel moves ahead. I’m reading and reading and reading.
But… I have also allowed “life” to throw me off course – perhaps a bit too easily.
And, perhaps, I could be a BIT more selective in what I am reading… there isn’t really a “program” – though I did have a stack of books of poetry and plays I wanted to read and more (always) books on craft. Now, (she looks around the room), where did that pile GET too?
I’m always saying – every day is a NEW DAY and you can change your life in an instant. That you just have to DECIDE and TAKE ACTION.
The 3DNC is most definitely a time of ACTION.
This year, it also feels like a time of reflection.
Like I said, I am doing something COMPLETELY NEW – for me, this year.
I am going to go in with – nothing.
Well, with GAL and with … another character who is simply the me/not me.
A woman…of a certain age.
With a background similar to mine.
And… I suppose, though I’m not sure – ISSUES similar to mine.
We will see what comes out.
I will do things differently this year for the 3DNC.
I will listen, closely, to my body.
I will respond with nourishment and care and movement.
I will begin this year with stretchy yoga and a meditation.
I will turn on my 3 hours of TRANCE-y tunes and I will open my heart and we will see what GAL brings to me.
Oh my dears…I can just FEEEEEEEEL potential judges cringing.
I could so CRASH!
I could type up reams of nonsense.
And what, you ask, is so bad about that?
Well, I could… FAIL.
There’s that fear-monster again.
Sometimes, I really wish I could just give myself a freakin’ break.
That is, of course, when I’m not busy berating myself for being a “lazy-arsed good for nothin”
I’m forever making lists and wishful schedules for myself.
You know the type:
Is such a schedule too mad to do?
I have freedom, right now.
I think I can hold off getting a “job-job” until … well, I dunno… maybe… I was going to March, but no… I say APRIL.
I can try…no.
As Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try…”
I can DO this … this schedule of wonderfulness …
Well, starting WEDNESDAY – cuz til then…I’m busy…listening.
I sit here, typing this and I hear GAL say, “You should post this on your blog.”
“What if I can’t do it?
“Well then you will be a losah!”
GAL goes silent, but the dialogue continues in my head.
Can I NOT just make a pledge? A simple pledge to rise earlier, write more consistently (instead of bingeing), eat better and do some yoga/meditation?
Make a pledge.
Do it publicly!
AFTER the 3DNC.
Oh for mothertruckin’ cheesedoodle sakes – just DO it!
I try to side-step.
And if I feel strong enough…
I WILL post it and I will begin a NEW YEAR – From Labour to Labour, From 3DNC12 to 3DNC13.”
Oh give it UP!
Just declare it – you can always slink back on Wednesday and delete the ENTIRE BLOG if you are such a scaredy pants!
I hereby RESOLVE to:
And scariest of all:
I hereby pledge to report back to this public place… regularly… Once a week? Maybe. Maybe on Mondays…
I hereby pledge to report back to this public place each Monday to take an honest look at how I have “done”. Starting AFTER the 3DNC (cuz this MONDAY I’ll hopefully be typing like MAD)
That is do-able.
I think I will only have… um… 30 weeks til I will HAVE to find a job that will bring in some buckage.
Maybe even less.
52 weeks it is.
I hereby declare this the year of living (and writing) intentionally (and dangerously too – though it is always that).
OK. It’s 11pm.
I’m outta here til at least TUESDAY. Don’t forget to water the plants.
And, as always…
Go easy -p
Trolling the Web these last few days, I’m meeting all manner of new 3day cohorts and finding some great advice/support/giggles.
There’s a great to do list over on Damsel de Tech’s blog
Makes me think about my own “final days” prep list.
That feels like a start anyhow.
Can you tell I’m going a bit squirrel-ly?
I also enjoyed The Reader’s 3-day Novel SURVIVAL GUIDE
She has tips For WRITERS and For Friends and Spouses
Check it out!
And if you haven’t already…be sure to take a look at the 3 Day Novel SURVIVAL GUIDE on the 3day site.
Some basic tips from me:
And now… I’m off to challenge GAL to a duel.
Really, I’m off to drive my laundry into town and maybe stop off at the Legion for a pint.
Keep scribbling -p
People do the 3day for a lot of reasons.
The first time I did it (2008), it was on a dare.
My first novel, Mostly Happy, had just come out, published by Thistledown Press. It took me 6 years to complete. I completed the 6 week Mostly Happy Couch Surfing Tour (you can follow the link to read about it in Cahoots Magazine).
I was tired out, so I rested for a few months and then… got back at it.
I was trying to start work again… and… flailing.
I had some new characters.
I had some dialogue.
And I had a kick ass ACT BREAK.
I was sure I was working on a new play.
But it just…wouldn’t … gel.
I so wanted to write a play.
I missed my theatre folk.
I wanted to work alone for a while and then fold myself into the loving embrace of the amazing people at the Saskatchewan Playwright’s Centre.
But I just couldn’t seem to find my stride.
It was summer time.
My Love and I were at “The Camp.”
He saw a call for the 3 Day Novel Contest and he DARED me to do it. “Take the characters and write it out, as a novel.” he said. “You’ll get the story and you can always turn it back into a play.”
I took the bait.
That year I crafted a version of SANCTUARY and it took Honourable Mention in the contest.
It was a wild ride.
I wrote my first ever outline and found myself careening from plot point to plot point and following my characters wherever they led.
When Dunny, the boy I saw as the main character, chose to only speak in rhymes… I grinned.
When Izzy, the girl who sort of took over the story, stole a car and headed across the desert… I hooted and raced after her.
On the Monday night, I blinked and hit PRINT.
Then I opened the wine and my Love and I celebrated a new world being born.
These characters had a story. I’d only GLIMPSED it, but I had a taste and I knew it wasn’t a play this time. It was another novel.
Life got in the way of continuing work on the skeleton I’d found, and Sanctuary languished… until this year.
I am currently hip deep in a re-visioning of the world of Izzy and Dun. I can’t talk about it yet, as it is very much in FLUX right now and, truth be told, I’m entirely superstitious about talking about the work before the first draft is even complete.
This is more than a rewrite. It is a whole new bag.
I would go so far as to say that the natural, proper,
fitting shape of the novel might be that of a sack, a bag.
A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings.
A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular,
powerful relation to one another and to us.
-Ursula K Le Guin (Dancing at the Edge of the World, 1989)
And it all started with a dare to do the 3day.
I had a blast that weekend, and I was hooked.
I did the contest in 2009 in the exhausting and exhilarating company of a vigilante named MAC who is still kicking around in my back brain plotting murders whenever she catches a news story about a child being hurt. Some days I dream that Mac and the gang are a series that will bring in heaps of dough. I’m hilARIOUS, right?
In 2011, I hung out with a trio, on an island in a river in Northern Ontario… a little romance, a little family trauma drama, and some eagles.
They are resting now, but sure to be revisited.
I’m back this year with a maddening character named Galinda, GAL for short. No relation to the Wicked one.
She is driving me a bit mad.
Here’s part of an exchange we recently had in my “morning scribble book.”
ME: Can’t you you give me a hint? I need a -- story.
I need a plan of some kind. A few ... signposts.
C’mon. I need... something. GAL: Piss off.
ME: Oh, that’s just great. Thanks. Very helpful.
She turns her great bulk or skinny self... is she even a SHE? Shapeshifting stubborn demon spawn....
grumble grumble grumble....
GAL: (grins) You don’t trust me.
ME: I hardly know you.
GAL: Whadda ya think... I’m gonna leave you spinning
on the porch floor with your legs kicking,
gasping for breath, halfway through the weekend?
GAL: Like a bug.
GAL: Like a dying bug.
GAL: Weeping like a great babee. Blubbering and
covered in snot and...
ME: I paid 50 bucks. I need to have a STORY!
GAL: (with a chuckle that shakes the house) Sweety, you have
ME. You take my hand. We gonna be just fine.
And she is gone. Again.
I am entirely f***ked.
It’s funny I feel this way.
Funny because this actually how writing USUALLY works for me.
My people talk to me, and I have learned to trust them. I know that the best work comes this way – for me.
For six years, a girl named BEAN repeatedly kicked me out of my bed and sent me back to the page to “Fix her story.” Anytime I let myself or my own issues leak onto the page, she called me on it. Granted, she gave me a little bit of leeway. She would wait and watch and listen… to see if this was my bumbling way to find HER truth, but when it became clear to her that I had veered off track, she had no compunction whatsoever about kicking me the hell out of bed and letting me know that it WOULD NOT STAND.
I had to start again. And again. And again.
Til I got it right.
See, outside of the 3day – that’s how I work. I listen to my characters. They talk and talk and TALK. They take me places, show me stuff. I write it all down in my scribble book and then, together we weed through it all to find the real STORY. The THING that they are trying to say.
I figure I just don’t have time for that during the 3day. So I’ve tried to learn to PLOT stories. To create some sort of OUTLINE or even just a chronological list of events that I can cling to as we set out.
I found some grand advice and “worksheets” out here on the Web:
There’s a whole Writers Toolbox over at Scriptorium
A method to “Outline Your Novel in Thirty Minutes” by Alicia Rasley
And a heap load of writing advice generously shared by Jim Butcher (author of the well beloved Dresden Files)
I also reread Steven King’s On Writing.
King is not a big fan of the outlining thing.
I like that.
He may have saved my life.
Because – while I DO believe that worksheets and outlining and thinking about story and breaking things down and looking intently at how successful stories are crafted can help us all grow as writers… I also know that the real JUICE in my work happens when I let all of that stuff go and let the character lead me. When I get my organizing, critical editor self out of the way and enter the flow.
Writing is a craft. It is hard work. We build our worlds word by word by word.
And… the magic happens when the characters take over.
We need to do BOTH things.
We need to trance out and let it flow AND we need to craft the tale.
My biggest fear with the three day is… there is not enough TIME for both. (she giggles hysterically)
I begin to panic and I want… a PLAN.
I continue to cajole Gal:
ME: A first line? A last line?
Some kind of trajectory to follow?
C’mon, throw me a bone.
GAL: In the beginning...
GAL: “In the beginning...” There’s a first line for you.
(Her grin could split the world)
This is gonna be a riot.
I started this post with the idea that I would figure out just WHY I do this 3 day mad thing.
I do it …. To let out a draft of a story that has been building in my back brain and needs some AIR
I do it …. Because it is fun
I do it …. To seek the flow and give my self a rest from that invasive, stifling, editorial biotch who lives within me
I do it …. To maintain my “Mulligan” cred with my tribe over at the FORUM
I do it …. Because it scares the bejezuz our of me…. and there ain’t nothing better than stomping FEAR on the head and doing a lil boogie dance all over him on my screened in porch.
Thanks for listening.
Drop a line if you are a fellow 3day fanatic.
Let me know why YOU DO IT.
go easy -p
“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot”
― Nadia Comaneci
There’s this thing I do every labour day weekend called the 3 Day Novel Contest. It’s a mad fun, joyful, excruciating challenge and I love it to bits.
I especially love the community of fellow scribes that participate each year and gather online at abebooks. We joke, support each other, tease, cajole, and generally have a grand time talking about the contest, other writing adventures and life in general.
The following video is from one of my 3day cohorts – codename TILLY BEAN!
She really does capture the agony and ecstasy we all experience during the weekend. I especially love the dancing bit (I too always dance at some point), and the “I so suck” bit (I too always SUCK at some point).
This year, The 35th Annual 3-Day Novel Contest will take place September 1-3, 2012.
You can still register.
Check it out.
-Emily Dickinson (1830–86). Complete Poems. 1924.
Well… I’m not on the prairie these days… but I am full of revery as I watch the seasons turn down here on the Bay.
The sunflower has grown tall and straight.
It’s over six feet tall and the day it unfurled it’s blossom, we stood and watched in wonder.
And now..the leaves are falling…
It’s only August 6th and the leaves are falling…
They say the second winter will be the hardest. Because, “Now you know what’s coming.”
We’ve been here for over a year. I find that amazing.
My Love and I moved here to his family “camp” in northern Ontario last June.
After ten years of spending the summers here and hopping hither and yon every fall and winter, we finally decided to just pack up all our stuff and shift it…here…to this place.
We both needed time and space to think and write, and we have found it.
I scribble away, working on a new novel. Peeling away layers of myself. Figuring out what sort of stories I REALLY want to tell.
My love continues to weave words, creating plays and sending them out into the world.
It’s been fabulous.
go easy -p
I am absolutely terrified, nay, let me say HORRIFIED by the very idea of this blog.
Isn’t that interesting…
I’m not really sure what I am so afraid of.
When I decided that I would … leap in… to the blogosphere, I thought long and hard about doing it anonymously.
I thought that might sidestep this fear…this…this abject freaking TERROR of sending my thoughts out into the world.
I may tell you, some day, why I almost created a blog under the name Mulligan.
But obviously, I decided to just “be me” and carve out my own lil spot here on the weeb.
I decided that if I’m really going to do this, I would like it to be honest. I aim to strive for the loveliness and grace of blogs like that of the fabulous Eugene Stickland.
This post will not be lovely.
This post will get me over the fence of fear.
If you would like to come along – hit the MORE button….
…is this thing on?
And so it begins. A new adventure in cyberland.
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