I recently mentioned that I had some super secret news. We’re now allowed to talk about it. (-;
On Thursday March 6th I have the distinct pleasure of being locked inside Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario for the 5th time! FIVE TIMES. FIVE! Count ‘em! Five! (-:
With the tagline, 24 ARTISTS. 24 HOURS. 6 NEW PLAYS., you just know it’s the one must-see event of the year in these parts. There is nothing quite as extraordinary as Trafalgar24.
I don’t know how I get so lucky. Sometimes, it’s hard being a writer (shhhh…not really). But at other times, it’s quite the fairytale. Trafalgar is my fairytale.
I enjoy everything about this play festival. I love the anticipation of waiting to see which room my play will be set in, how many actors I will be given to work with, whether those actors will be male, female or both. I love arriving at the castle at night and knowing I won’t be leaving until daylight. I love knowing that when I do leave the castle the next morning, that I leave behind a complete 10-minute play. For one night a year, I’m the elf…leaving behind a hopefully stunning pair of shoes for the shoemaker to discover.
I love knowing that as I’m driving away from the castle, there are a group of eager (and probably a little scared, anxious and excited) actors and directors arriving to rehearse the plays we playwrights leave behind. I love knowing that within those castle walls, for the entirety of the day, there is creation happening…actors are becoming the characters we leave behind, making them bigger and better and full of life. And directors are envisioning the perfect business to attach to the playwrights’ words. SO MUCH MAGIC!
And as I arrive back at the castle, a little after nightfall, there is an air of highly electrified excitement. The actors are there, the directors are there, the volunteer soldiers of the Driftwood Theatre Company are there. And the opening ceremonies see the castle fill to the rafters with audience members eager to see what delights are in store for them this year! Delights both culinary and theatrical…as the dessert bar at Trafalgar 24 is renown.
The audience, broken into 6 groups, tours the castle and sees all 6 of the plays in the 6 castle rooms chosen for the event.
Playwrights have no idea going in which room they will get to write their play in. To date, I’ve had the basement, the piano room, the auditorium and the lab. I love getting to my room, taking a walk around and trying to figure out what will happen there. So far, each room has spoken to me. I can’t wait to see where I get put this year!
If you have not yet grabbed your Trafalgar24 ticket, I suggest you do it now. This event sells out yearly:
See you at the castle!
From Driftwood’s Webpage:
Trafalgar 24 is a fundraising event in support of driftwood theatre
Every March, 24 playwrights, directors and actors get locked into a 19th century castle nestled in Whitby, Ontario, for a theatre creation event unlike any other. Using the castle as inspiration, their challenge is to create, rehearse and perform six new plays in only 24 hours.
This extraordinary festival is also Driftwood’s signature fundraising gala. Be among an exclusive audience to witness six new site-specific plays; feast on a fabulous selection of wine, cheese and desserts; find spectacular deals on entertainment, electronics, services, art and more at our silent auction; and help discover Driftwood’s next Beyond The Castle playwright.
March 7, 2014 | Trafalgar Castle | 401 Richmond Street, Whitby.
Before I get to the upcoming (impending?) WCDR Roundtable Meeting, I thought I’d talk a bit about duo first person narration. I spoke about this to a fellow WCDR member at the WCDR Words of the Season event at The Bear & Firkin in Pickering this past Monday. The first thing I panicked about was a passing mention that writing this form is difficult.
I’m a bit puzzled. Perhaps somebody else can chime in with why they think writing 2 POV characters in first person is difficult? Is it because both characters need to be individuals and it’s presumably hard to write 2 FP POVs in the same novel because the reader may not know which POV they are reading? I did not have that problem. My characters were as different as day and night. I don’t know if any readers had a hard time separating the two voices, but I myself never got lost in the grey area between the two. I never questioned who was speaking. Perhaps this is the difficulty that was alluded to? Who knows. I can just say with absolute surety that I did not find it difficult. In fact, I had so much fun I might just do it again!
I wrote my 3rd published novel as a duo narrated first-person POV. I did it because it was fun. I had no idea it was hard until I heard it said this week. Since hearing that, I’ve been apron-wringing about my novel, THE REASONS. It was NOT hard to write that novel. What I found hard about that novel, was keeping up with the manic narrative that coursed through my brain at the time. I couldn’t get it down fast enough. My narrators are mother and son. And the best part was writing the insanity of the mother. It was a trip getting into her headspace every other chapter. I wrote The Reasons during a 72hr novel writing marathon. I still maintain that I dictated that novel. The two first-person POV characters, Tobias Reason and his mother Maggie, were extremely willing interviewees. Yeah, it sounds crazy…but sometimes one just gets right IN THE ZONE when writing. So much so that it feels like the characters did all the work. All I did during that marathon session was tap the keys…I was a conduit to a pair of mal-adjusted dysfunctional lunatics, and it was a thrill ride. HARD? Hardly!
Now! It’s almost time for the next WCDR Roundtable Meeting! Are you coming this month? You do NOT need to be a member to attend. These monthly meetings are wonderful networking opportunities. AND they are great rewards to give you writing life. As soon as I began to attend these meetings, way back in 2003, I felt legitimate. I had arrived. Attending these meetings helps to get I-might-be-a-writer people off the fence. When you become a part of the action at a WCDR Roundtable, you’re plopped right into the thick of the writing life. Each meeting is an adrenalin shot to keep you in the head-space of writer.
To discover what went on at the January 2014 WCDR Roundtable, click the picture below of Sarah Selecky. Sarah spoke on the finer points of short story writing. January was also the launch of the WCDR Short Story Contest, which Sarah herself will personally judge. You might best know Sarah for her WONDERFUL STORY PROMPT TWEETS on Twitter.
Don’t miss the February WCDR Roundtable Meeting. What’s going on at this one?
National Bestselling EVE SILVER will be speaking at the February event. her topic will be: Writing Romantic: A Creative Exploration for all Genres
There is always an After Breakfast Mini-Workshop at these meetings. For February, Sandy Campbell will be taking on the topic of SEX. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THE FEBRUARY MINI-WORKSHOP GETTING SEX ON THE PAGE!
For those writers in the area who are shy-reluctant-terrified to attend one of these meetings, I’ll tell you right now…YOU WILL BE WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS. Have no fear. All levels of writers are welcomed–and encouraged–to attend. My first was terrifying! I thought I would have to show my WRITER CARD at the door. Truth be told, I was positive I would actually be turned away at the door…by a posse of laughing actual-writers, with a chorus of, “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE” singing me out the door. But it is not like that! AT ALL! You will be welcomed. Your hand will be held, if need be. Or not, if you’re freaked out by that sort of thing. Newbies are escorted to a table with at least one veteran attendee, and they are made instantly welcome into the fold. Do yourself a favour…ATTEND!
You must register by 9am on the Wednesday before the meeting. Next meeting Saturday, February 8th at 8:30am at Ajax Convention Centre in Ajax.
Stop balking. It can be done! I’ve done it. In fact, it’s the best way for me to write a novel. Trust me. You do not want to be inside this head. I have the attention span of a–well of something with the most minute of attention spans in the history of attention spans. I prefer not to say a gnat, because, well does anybody actually KNOW what the attention span of a gnat is? For all we know, they could have a superior attention span. That’s attention span bigotry, in my humble opinion.
What was I saying?
Oh yes. How to write a novel in one sitting.
Having done this on several occasions, I could probably give a few tips on how to do it. The most important thing for me is to not take myself too seriously when I do this. Don’t get me wrong…I take my writing output very seriously. The finished product must be as close to infallible as possible. But writing…the actual act of sitting in a chair–or on a chair–or on a table–or on the floor–and writing? I can’t take that too seriously. F to the U to the N. That’s what I require when I decide to give my writing self 72 hours to come up with a complete novel. Stepping into a novel marathon situation with a sneer and a steel resolve to GET THINGS DONE would equate to ABSOLUTE FAILURE for me. If you think you can attack a marathon writing situation by approaching it without humour and with a resolve to GET SHIT DONE, by all means…give it a go. That’s not me.
Here are some points to consider prior to hunkering down for a one-sitting first-draft novel:
1. Remove all commitments from your schedule. This should go without saying, but you would be surprised. Don’t schedule a one-sitting novel writing jag with a doctor’s appointment in the middle of it. That’s a real life break. You can’t have real life breaks. They interrupt the flow of the marathon mind. That shit will fuck you up. Make sure your schedule is COMPLETELY open. No “I have to watch Matlock Saturday at 7pm…but that’s the only break I’m taking!” You can’t have things to distract you from the trenches. You can take breaks…I’m not saying you can’t. I’m just saying you can’t have REAL LIFE breaks. You can’t come out of the cave.
2. If you don’t have somebody looking after your dietary needs for the marathon sitting, make sure you have enough previously prepared food to take you to the end of the marathon. Refer to #1. Preparing yourself a 3-course meal on day two of your marathon would be a lovely reward for sticking it out, but it would also take you completely off course. Might as well pack it in, because your mind left the cave as you sliced the onions and mashed the potatoes. Nothing kills a creativity binge more than straining broccoli through a colander. Have everything you need for your meals readily available. The most you’ll want to do in the kitchen is nuke things in the microwave or send some bread to the toaster gallows. More than that, and you’re disturbing the force, Luke.
3. Stand up and move away from your screen whenever you desire. Writers know that not all of the writing is done in front of the screen. You can leave your shelter all you want, you just can’t leave your cave. Take a walk down the street. Do jumping-jacks or gestalt or scream therapy. Walk down to the water and jump in. Now you’re thinking ‘why can’t I peel potatoes when I can jump in the river?’ Don’t question me, grasshopper. I have done this several times. Just think yes to FRIVOLOUS ACTIVITY and no to CHORES. You can do one while remaining in your writing cave, but it’s hard to remain in the cave while doing the other.
4. Listen to music OR don’t listen to music. This is, of course, a personal choice. A lot of writers have PLAYLISTS for their novels. If you know what you’re going to write about during your marathon jag, create a playlist prior to entering your cave. Listen while you write, if that’s your thing. Or, if music during writing makes you want to pluck your eyeballs out, then don’t do it. The key is if you’re going to listen to music, have everything you need for it at your fingertips. Creating a playlist while you’re in the cave could be catastrophic to the force, Luke. You’ll think about searching for a certain song, and you’ll go to download it or what have you. Next thing you know, two hours have passed and you’re in some dingy basement backroom of Youtube, watching/listening to a 1970s bootleg concert of Patty Smith and you won’t know how to escape. You will have to surrender the fantasy.
5. Take a boatload of writers with you into your cave. There are now several novel marathon events around. Find one…participate in one. You will thrive on the camaraderie of being in the company of other writers while doing this seemingly impossible thing. You will feed off of each other in the most positive of ways. And you will walk away from your weekend (or mid-week jag, if you will) with not only a finished first-draft but a load of new siblings in writing. Relationships will be formed that you will carry with you for a long time.
6. BE FOOLISH. Allow yourself to laugh. You are doing a phenomenal thing. To write a novel from cover to cover in one sitting is extraordinary. You will be tired (EXHAUSTED), you will be emotional (A FUCKING WRECK), you will be excited and wired and down and up and sideways. Don’t try to hold everything in. Don’t try to make this a pseudo-military mission. There are no rules. There is only you and the unfolding story. You have to have fun. It’s the only way to get through it. Trust me on this. You’ll have some great moments. Breakthroughs will be everywhere. But at 2:30 in the morning on your second day you might want to pull out all your hair and set your legs on fire. You will be giddy to the point of crying…but remaining in your cave is the way through it. Let seriousness fall away and be your child-self. It’s how you will make it through the dark tunnels of the marathon. WRITE YOUR WAY THROUGH.
7. Whatever you do, don’t look back. Writing a novel in one sitting is not like seeing a runaway freight train bombing down the tracks at an impossible unstoppable speed. Writing a novel in one sitting makes YOU the freight train. Don’t, for the love of god, stop that train. You have to let go of the ego self that screams at you to edit that last sentence, that last paragraph, that last chapter. The editing can come later. Much later, if you want. During the marathon, there is only ONE DIRECTION. Forward.
That’s enough for now. The biggest thing about attempting to write a novel this way is that there are no rules. YOU FIND YOUR OWN WAY. These are just a few loose suggestions. (-: You have got to try to write this way. It’s so liberating. Magical. Imagine not needing to do anything else between the start and end of your story. It’s unfathomable, but not impossible.
Here’s a prior post I made about the MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON FLIPBOOK MOVIE.
A previous post I wrote on the Marathon Novel Experience.
Both my 2nd and 3rd published novels are the result of NOVEL MARATHON WRITING. Take a look at the Book Trailer for my 3rd novel, THE REASONS. On an unrelated note, it features some amazing music by one of my favourite bands…MEDICINE FOR THE PEOPLE.