Last year I got unceremoniously roped into participating in the Muskoka Novel Marathon by my writer friends, Tobin Elliott, Kevin Craig and Lori Twining. There were more, but these three were the loudest.
For those that haven’t heard about it, the Muskoka Novel Marathon, henceforth to be called MNM, is an event that raises funds and awareness for adult illiteracy and innumeracy. Together with the YMCA of Simcoe and Muskoka, MNM invites 40 writers to fund raise and in July, spend 72 hours in Huntsville writing non-stop.
Well, ok, some write non-stop, some take breaks, but still, it is a creatively charged atmosphere.
So it was with some trepidation that I finally caved and agreed to participate. My hesitation wasn’t borne out of lack of faith in the cause, but more in my own abilities. I don’t write in long jags. I write in fits and farts, as my Scottish Nana used to say. My brain won’t spit out anything close to a “shitty first draft”. No, it has to roll the idea around, flesh it out, make sure it is cohesive, before it will allow me to put one word on the page. And if I try to force the issue, try to write down points and ideas, it, rather snobbishly, refuses to revisit said ideas.
Now that is not to say that when I get around to putting words on the page that they are perfect in any sense. No. My ability to transform the pictures my brain forms into words, is where the polish needs to happen. The fact that grammar and punctuation like to switch nametags as a lark for my discomfort, are the parts that need fixing.
So I arrived in Huntsville having raised my money (which I hope to exceed this year) and to a room full of actual skilled and talented writers. Round pegs to my square peg. The fear that they would see through my writerly facade only gained credence with the first writer to post 50 pages. I had a paragraph.
Luckily I had some friends who talked me down off the ledge. In the end, I produced a solid 60 pages. 45 of which was the completed sequel to The Good King, called Three Ships for Three Kings, and 25 were the ending to my Middle Grade illustrated Christmas story, Archibald and the Gentlemen Three.
And the 50 page writer, Pat Flewwelling? She, along with two other writers, went on to complete over 300 pages each.
In total, we raised $23,000.00 and produced over 3090 pages as a group. To add icing to that cake, a lady that went through the YMCA program participated for the second year in a row.
The program works.
This year I signed up again, no cajoling required. I don’t know what I am going to write yet. I may rewrite (edit) an existing story. Either way, it is time well spent. I actually feel guilty for what I take away from this event. The creative energy in a room full of writers is not only inspiring but addictive. But this isn’t supposed to be about me, hence my guilt.
So, if you know someone who can’t read or recognize numbers, or even if you don’t, you probably do, they hide it well, please consider donating. If I complete a book as a result of this event, I will make sure it has a page of acknowledgements at the front, naming you (if you want) and thanking you for your kindness and compassion.
Everyone deserves to read, if not for pleasure, just to get by in everyday life. We often forget how much of our daily lives require us to read. Prescriptions, directions, recipes, TV listing, Holiday cards or even just little notes from our loved ones, our children or grandchildren.
Go to the Muskoka Novel Marathon home page to read more and to see photos and read the accomplishments of the writers last year. Also, check out the writers participating this year. It is a talented group, everyone of them.
Here is my donation page. https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/dale-r-long-at-muskoka-novel-marathon-2015/
Every little bit helps. If you can’t donate, that’s understandable, you can still help by spreading the word.