In this series of posts, my intention was to share pieces about me, so you can get to know who I am, to see if we are a fit and can work together.
A big part of me, is my writing. Which is probably why I chose to add in a blog element to my website. I know it is one of the reasons I learned about Narrative Therapy / Therapeutic Letter Writing.
Writing is both my hobby and my personal therapy and I love it for each of those qualities. For purposes of this post however, I am speaking to the hobby aspect of writing.
From the age of 11 I have loved writing. It didn’t matter what, as long as I was writing. This worked really well for school and continues to bring enjoyment to my life today.
In 2004 I heard about something called the “3 Day Novel” Contest, which is exactly as it sounds. You have 3 days to write and submit a novel, to be judged. Size wise it is probably more of a novella, but that doesn’t for one moment lessen the amount of work that goes into this achievement. It is held annually on the September long weekend.
I completed it for ten years in a row, but took last year off as a break. I will go back again this year as I truly missed that weekend.
For myself, I have two favourite parts about writing that fuel me beyond anything else. The first is when I get the “right” story idea that truly resonates with me. I know it is “right” because that is when I can actually “hear” their voices, their conversations, their conflicts and challenges. Once I am in this place, the second part typically follows.
The second part for me is once I have the story line, I love doing the research. I am a total geek when it comes to this part – I adore doing research and learning, then building and filling in the characters, connecting the dots, coming up with the background details, really telling the story behind the story. Once these two pieces are in place, everything makes sense in my head and I can build it.
Once this is solid, I can quite literally sit down and just write it from start to finish. Each character taking their turn, each situation presenting, until I am writing the last chapters, tying up the lose ends to the final page where it all seems to magically come together, in a satisfying ending.
While I have never won, I quickly realized that while that would be wonderful, it wasn’t the winning that was truly important. The first year, simply finishing was the goal and the reward. The second year, I was convinced the first year was a fluke. Turns out it wasn’t so I signed up again. Each year it gets better and better and I enjoy it even more. Long gone are the nerves and fears that I can’t or won’t complete, I have ten years completed submissions as proof that isn’t likely. (for the record, I did receive an honourable mention one year that I am incredibly proud of)
Quite honestly, I love this weekend. My husband is happy because he has a free long weekend to do as he pleases. Besides preparing my outline and doing the research, I also prepare physically for the weekend itself. I long ago learned that junk food won’t sustain me and my brain, thoughts and storylines clean and clear, so I prepare good, healthy, easy to eat meals. (yes of course there is chocolate, I am a human female !) I prepare play lists of music for every mood that my characters will experience. i.e.: anger typically gets a good dose of AC/DC or Creed ,you get the idea. I also cut out pictures of how my mind sees characters, scenes etc., so in those moments I may be stuck, I have visual reminders to help me get back on track. But perhaps the biggest thing I do, is not start on the Friday night. Instead I go to sleep and get up early on Saturday, write for the full day and head to bed by 10 or 11pm, and start all over again.
It’s always a bittersweet moment when it is done and sent in to be judged. Satisfaction and pride at having completed it. Vulnerability at having submitted it to the judges for review. Anxiety knowing that in most cases it will take up to six months to hear the results… then happy again, when they open registration for the following year. The cycle is complete.
So this is what I do Labour Day Weekend and have for the past ten years.. so you know where I am, when I stop answering emails, texts, phone calls and don’t make any plans. I’m not being anti-social, I am creating an entire world on paper.