Monday, 20 June 2011

Write-a-Thon: Day #2

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My Write-a-Thon profile

Day #2 Progress: 1,256
Objective: +1,256/+30,000

As I closed the lid on my thesis introduction draft at chirruping four o’clock this morning, my proposed 8am Write-a-Thon wake-up call struck me as suicidal. I had made a catastrophic mistake, and would pay for it with general ridicule. I'm not cut out for this, I cursed myself. The a.m. was something that happened to other people. I was going to make myself ridiculous.

Only, I didn’t.

So far from it, in fact, that I wrote 1,256 words in the allotted three hours. I also learned the following life and craft lessons while at it.

1. Follow your instincts – to an extent

Today was the day I finally stopped fawning over a couple of anciently written pages which I had hoped against all hope to salvage, rolled up the sleeves of my inner metaphor, and tackled the treacherous Chapter 8.2. An entire self-contained scene and all of two paragraphs later, I called it a day… more than halfway through a troublesome subchapter which has eluded me for more years than I care to count. Exception made for a single line of dialogue so obviously crucial I carried it over across drafts completely subconsciously, I reimagined the original scene from scratch.

Yes, it was hard, yes it was painful, yes it felt like a waste. Only for a moment, however. The harsh stab of regret was soon out-jolted by the joyful realisation that what I was writing felt indescribably – though I am trying to describe it to you now, because you never know – better in style, greater in scope, deeper in its depiction of character. Which just goes to show that the guttural voice rumbling “I know I could write this better” deep there in my gut had its good reasons. Now, if I could only choose to turn it off when it tries to tell me the whole novel needs rewriting… again.

2. Always remember to have fun

Others may see deadlines as a chore. At their core, however, they are challenges; therefore they are games; which means that they can be played with. As I got ready and set to go, I think my brain shifted into a larger-scale version of the kind of gear it employs to play Scrabble. Borderless board, infinite letter-grams and a darn big hourglass equal a pretty epic game, and as such I played it. One glance at the time and I was off, writing against time and loving every minute of it, the part of me scared of being rusty, spent and out of practice just egging on my competitive side with its constructive disbelief.

A sizeable portion of the grand old time I was having I ascribe to the fact that I didn’t have the time to be my usual nit-picky, retentive, perfectionist self. There will be a time for editing, also known as the weekend. This, however, was the time for the sheer, unadulterated thrill of writing as one should dance – like nobody is watching.

Bring on tomorrow, I say.

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