Saturday, July 17, 2010

Muskoka Novel Marathon - 1/3rd of the way there!

Wow...even now that I type this, I can feel how much my typing speed has dropped.

At the moment that I type this, I'm "taking a break" from writing at about quarter to two, Saturday afternoon, about 18 hours into the 72-hour marathon. And best of all, I'm a third of the way toward my goal, and ahead of schedule.

I had asked my Aunt Shirley if she wanted to help "sponsor me" this year by making a small donation to the Muskoka Literacy Council. She committed a certain amount (a very generous amount at that). Then, as I was thanking her, I mentioned that I was half-hoping to beat last year's record of 300 pages. She said, "If you do, I'll double my donation." I took her up on it. Then, when it came time to head to points northwest, my aunt asked when the funds were due for collection. I told her I had to bring them with me. So she gave me a cheque for double what she had originally committed and said that it was given "in good faith."

And wouldn't it figure...Last night, I was sidelined by a migraine. Paragraph by paragraph blundered from brain to page. I had to give up past midnight, four and a bit hours into the marathon with only about thirty pages. Things were not looking good.

This morning, feeling groggy and gruesome, I checked the "Boon Board." Mr. Kevin Craig was at page 70 when I walked in this morning just shy of 7:00 o'clock!

But it had exactly the effect I needed. He had a forty page lead, and I had fire in my guts. I would not be dethroned without a fight.

Last night, I was averaging about 1250 words per hour. Now, I'm averaging close to 2000. And best of all, during the lunch break, I caught Mr. Craig looking at my current page count of 100 even, and he uttered something funny as heck and very badly timed ("Uh, she's right behind you").

There's only twenty pages between us now, and I'm finally, fully awake.

And so, rolling over shortly to 2:00 p.m., I jump back into it again, with a goal of at least 150 pages tonight before bed. I've had my pizza, I've had my first pickle, and the first can of Monster Energy Drink is open at last.

Look out Mr. Craig. Mwaa ha.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

'Twas the Night before Marathon

'Twas the night before Marathon, and all through my head
Were worries and memories, full of joy mixed with dread.
The Rockstar was packed in the Kia with care
In hopes that yours truly lives up to the dare.

All the year long and all through the whole night,
I thought about this, our weekend to write.
"Who's coming this year," is the first of the set.
"How's Erin and family?" "Quite warm, I would bet."

"Will Martin still nap there?" "Will Paula compete?"
"Can we all go racing? 'Cause that would be sweet!"
"How do we get there? And will it be hot?
"Can we go to Crabby's? I like them a lot."

"And what shall I write? Can I write well enough?
"And how many pages?! Oh man, is this tough.
"Which story to write? This one? Maybe not...
"Oh heavens have mercy - I need a good plot!"

And then I remember what this is about:
It's the volunteer efforts of which I should tout.
The Council Muskokan of Literacy,
Writers assemble to champion thee!

So pick up your pencil and play your first tune,
And say a warm thank you to Ms. Paula Boon.
I thank all of you who help drive this success.
And hope all of our efforts, new readers shall bless.

For more information about the Muskoka Literacy Council, check out their website at

And even if you haven't supported this particular volunteer literacy organization, support one in your local area. This is a rapidly evolving, technologically driven economy, and sometimes, people get lost in the shuffle. Deficiencies in basic literacy, numeracy or computer skills can be insurmountable obstacles when entering or re-entering the workforce.

We help those who want to work. Help us to help themselves to a better future.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The 72-Hour Wonder! Coming soon!

It's getting close to that time of year again, and I'm already in a giddy state of panic-laced joy.

I'm annoying all my friends with reminders that I'm going to the Muskoka Novel Marathon on Friday, July 16th. My mother bought me a jar of pickles to take with me "In case of emergency, like writer's block or Page 301." I've been fasting from all sorts of creativity in the last two weeks, to build up a ravenous appetite for writing. I've been listening to '20s and '30s music the last few days to get me into the spirit of the book's era (and I've been subjecting friends, family and unsuspecting neighbours to the likes of "Lullaby on Broadway," "Happy Days are Here Again," and "Yes, We Have No Bananas" at all hours). And in the trunk of my car: 4 cans of Monster Energy Drink, 4 cans of Full Throttle, and 1 obligatory can of Rockstar.

The portents so far are good. When I arrived at my Grampa's place (jumping off point before heading up to Huntsville), I spotted a photo clipped from the July 7th newspaper: my great-aunt Ruby dressed up like a flapper. Coincidentally: my principal character's name is also Ruby.

But am I ready? Yes and no? Yes, I have everything I need (computer, keyboard, obscene amounts of caffeine), and no, I don't have everything I need (I still haven't actually written down the plot for the book I intend to write).

72-hour marathon implies 72 hours of sleep-deprived typing, interrupted by inconvenient and ill-timed trips to the bathroom, but it doesn't mention anything about the 72 days of hair-pulling and lip-chewing leading up to it!

The questions are making me toss and turn - and I haven't even gone to bed yet. How's the story going to end? Can I make this book better than last year's? Is it going to have enough action? What about the research? Shouldn't I have done more of it beforehand? Are we going to have office chair races again? Who's going to be there this year? Is my roomie going to put up with me and my weird sleeping behaviours? And speaking of whom: is Jacqui going to make good on last year's promise to take a magnet to my computer while other MNM'ers distract me with burgers and fries?

And the two biggest questions of all: 1) can I actually write 301 pages this weekend? 2) HOW did I write 300 last year?

I mean, who in their right mind writes 300 pages (approximately 55k words) in 72 hours? Was I mad? Did I really drink that much caffeine? How fast was I typing, for crying out loud? How many spelling errors per second is that, anyhow?

But what's been keeping me grinning is this: By this time next week, I'll have a new book written. It's a book that doesn't exist right now, but by Monday night next week, I'll have a hard copy in hand. Now how freaking cool is that?

Time (very limited time at that) will tell if I can beat my own record. Stay tuned - I'll post updates as bonus material during the marathon.