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A Weekend Novel Contest

December 11, 2011

About twenty years ago when we were living in Vancouver (British Columbia) Canada, I heard or read about a weekend novel contest. I can’t recall if it was local to the city, Provincial or beyond across the country. At the time, I was toying with the idea of getting a little more serious about really writing a novel. There was an entry fee of about a hundred buckeroos to enter the contest, if I remember correctly. Even if we had had more money to rub together back then, I doubt I would have spent it on my first attempt at writing an entire novel that quickly. In two days? One hundred clams could buy a ton of food and we had a still young family to feed on a very limited income. My hubby was back at school.

Still, I was intrigued by the challenge of trying to accomplish such a thing. Write a novel (sold draft) in one weekend?! Was it possible? How good could it be in so short a time? Could you really write enough coherent words to qualify? Not to mention the plot and characters being decent. Well, I checked on the exacting rules and decided to join in on the contest on my own, alongside ‘real contestants’ and save the hundred smackeroos for family food. And so I geared up to write my novel idea in one weekend. I always work better when I have a deadline anyway, self-imposed or otherwise.

I can’t remember if the contest started exactly at midnight Friday on that infamous weekend, but I think that was it. And I seem to recall that the contest ended at midnight on Sunday. Now, as someone who doesn’t drink coffee and I never took caffeine in pills back then either (sometimes I have in recent years to combat migraines), I was at a slight disadvantage I suppose. I wasn’t even a chocolate or cocoa consumer. I was only on carob or chicory. Nope, no stimulants there. Staying awake and alert was going to be a little harder for me, compared.

Plus, to add to my own personal challenges, our one little shared computer sat in the midst of a tiny kitchen/eating/living/playing area, my youngest three kiddos were from about four to seven years of age and still loved to play Legos, dolls and toys at my feet, giving me all their chatty play by plays, wanting my continual verbal feedback reactions. Concentration was going to be tough. Talk about the need for focus. To create a stay calm eye in the busy storm.

When that contest weekend arrived, I stayed up writing as late as I dared both Friday and Saturday nights, and I wrote as much as I could throughout those two days. I exercised my youngish mother multi-tasking skills like at few other times. I didn’t cook or clean much, but I had to pay my children some attention. I couldn’t write exclusively. Still, you’d be surprised how much you can write if you hunker down and write, write, write with no rewrite editing allowed. I highly recommend that kind of process challenge.

By the time Sunday midnight rolled around, my story was done and my word count was closing in on seventy thousand words. I had done it! I had written a novel in one weekend. I’m not saying that it was a great story, or that the dialogue was pristinely realistic nor that the characters were perfectly relatable. To own the truth, I hardly remember. I think that I might have reread what I had written that weekend, once. At the time I thought it was pretty good. I have no idea what I would think of it right about now. I’ve never done a rewrite on it. I haven’t gone back to it for a perusal. I left it in my past. That ‘manuscript’ might be floating around here somewhere. I think I’m afraid to take a look at it. I fear it might be embarrassing.

But, I finished a solid novel draft in one weekend. That’s something.

If you are a budding writer, I dare you.

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