Monday, November 2, 2009

Day Two - NaNoWriMo, and The Nine Day Wonder

My first NaNoWriMo was in 2007. Tobin and a couple of other friends had flirted with the idea of participating, but me, I hadn't really considered it until Hallowe'en, 2007.

Then, the problem was, I didn't know what I was going to write about. For the preceeding five years, I had been working on a massive project in epic fantasy, and I was losing hope. I'd also just been "sharpening the quill" on a few radio plays, so mystery was fresh in my mind. Other than that, my brain was running on fumes.

So, Halloween night, I tossed myself into bed, giggling at the thought that I was going to launch into this venture. I'd never written a book in such a short time before - especially without having a single idea.

Having decided I was going to work on a new mystery (*toss, turn), I figured I would need a unique character. Deaf? No, that's been done - Sue Thomas, F.B.Eye. (*toss, turn) Confined to a wheelchair! No, that's been done - Ironside. (*toss, turn). He's a drunk! He's a hobo! He's jinxed! He's a red head! He's...he's...He's really a SHE! (*toss, turn...)

Out of nowhere, around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning (dizzy and tangled in the sheets from all the tossing and turning), it came to me: He has no tongue.

Immediately after that, I thought, I'll call it Mummer's the Word.

Immediately after that: "It would have to be Halloween. I don't know if that helped or hindered." They were the opening words to the story. I heard the voice of the narrator in my head, fully formed, sarcasm intact. I could see him, I could hear him, I could laugh with him - I swore, I could reach out and touch him.

For the next few hours, alternating between fussing and giggling, scene after scene fell in place. I gave up sleep, threw my stuff in my backpack and hit the coffee shop before going to work that morning. After that, the story just kinda...fell out of me.

I wrote over 36,000 words in the first week, and I took a day off. Sarah and Tim (my friends in Ontario) were coming down to visit Sarah's newest nephew on his baptismal day, and I really wanted to finish the story before they arrived. I didn't quite make it. But I did have it finished by the 10th. Sarah and Tim, I swear, are the most patient guests ever to walk through the Hobbit Door.

So, between November 1st and 10th, with one day off, I had Mummer's the Word completed in nine days.

Early December, after I'd done my first edits, I received an email from Invisible Cities Network (an artist's forum here in Montreal), championed by Christina M. It was a notice about the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Awards, and how, for the second time ever, the CWC was going to offer the category for "Best New Unpublished Author". I thought...what the heck.

Who knew by April, 2008, Mummer's the Word would be shortlisted for that category? And by December 31st, 2008, I would have an agent representing the series?

I met up with Christina and some friends late 2008. I had been trying to come up with a good website address to register, but I was coming up blank. I didn't want a website for just Mummer - I wanted it for the Author of Allsorts! More than just mystery, more than fantasy - a page for every major project. I had mentioned to one of my friends there that I had continued writing stories for Mummer - I think I had most of the series done by then, actually. So, knowing I had written Mummer in such a short time, he turned to Christina and told her what I had done. Christina gave me a bit of a smile and said, "You're a real nine day wonder, aren't you?"

I had the title to the website.

Granted, a "nine day wonder" is also a bit of a let down. According to Wikipedia, a "nine days wonder" is a sensational event that evokes widespread interest but is soon forgotten.

So I guess I'm just going to have to update Wikipedia! Nine Day Wonder is the story that is Mummer's the Word.

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