Thursday, April 11, 2013

Andromeda: Write-a-thon Tomorrow!

Tomorrow at Snow City and in remote places around the globe --well, at least North America--it begins: the Third Annual 49 Writers Write-a-thon. 

The first year we held this event, I was terrified it might not work, and remember how hard it was to explain the concept, though we'd studied similar events in other cities. Would anyone come? Would we cover our costs? If I'm not mistaken, our first goal was something like $3,000. We raised twice that amount. This year's goal is $8,000--which goes to supporting the events, classes, retreats and other programs that help keep the Alaska literary scene vibrant. At last check we were at $5,732, but the last day or two makes all the difference. Will you help us reach our shared goal?

There's still time to sign up, to donate to friends and acquaintances, or to show up in person at Snow City ($30 onsite registration fee). Click on banner to the right to go to the First Giving online registration site. And then: start spreading the word! Add a First Giving site link to your Facebook page. Send out emails. Go ahead and Tweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet! (This cold and snowy April, it may be our best chance at pretending spring has arrived.)


From our first Write-a-thon in 2011: A roomful of busy writers at Snow City, proving that when you show up and start working--no excuses--the muse often rewards you in wonderful ways. 

Kirsten Dixon, writer and chef and board member extraordinaire, remembers to pack her earphones. Why don't I ever remember that? By the way, Kirsten is currently in the fundraising lead, with over $675 in donations. Kirsten, what would we do without you?


Don Rearden, prolific writer, teacher, and 49 Writers Board President. By the way, Don is offering some really cool donor perks, from the $5 level (postcard) to the $1000 level (novel mentorship for a year!). Click on his name to read more.
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Last night, the very last night of my six-week 49 Writers Revision Intensive class, we passed around note cards to write our goals for the next six weeks, when we won't have each others' company for inspiration. Every talented and disciplined person in that class is writing a book-length narrative of some kind, either fiction or nonfiction. Each person committed to their specific next revision or new-drafting steps, and we'll be checking with each other by email in late May to see how things have progressed.

I'm not personally revising anything at the moment, but since I was waiting for people to fill out their cards, I filled out one as well, since my own personal goal this month--beginning tomorrow night--is to re-start a novel that has been on a very low simmer due to other writing and teaching obligations.

I playfully jotted a few words on that little index card and then --what do you know--something happened. "Re-starting novel" was no longer specific enough. I found myself writing, "20,000 new words by May 22." As soon as I saw those words on paper, I believed them. Why had I resisted being so specific up until that moment? I also added some slightly less tangible but equally important goals, like getting to a certain point in the story arc, and also finishing up my current research phase (I'll be visiting some lower-48 archives in May) and dealing with some specific narrative challenges, like getting to know certain things about my character. Oh, and also, updating my website. (OK, maybe the short-term goal-setting was getting a little out of hand, but it was fun. Have I mentioned that I'll be relying on two tech-savvy friends I met through 49 Writers to help me with my website facelift? Thank you again, 49 Writers.)

What I mean to say is this: Dates and deadlines and plans for writing help us. And buddy systems help us, too-- whether that buddy is a person you might email this spring, announcing a plan to do a certain amount of work, or a person you meet or re-meet at tomorrow's write-a-thon, with whom you promise to stay in touch and share challenges and successes. I may tell myself that I'm essentially a solo writer, but sitting around that table last night with three aspiring novelists and three aspiring memoirists, all putting our goals on paper, gave me an important nudge. Good writing is nearly always about concrete specifics. So is good goal-setting. Be specific. Be realistic, but also be ambitious. A million (or is it billion?) people hope to write a story, or novel, or screenplay someday. Be the person who does it: who writes the first draft (and the second and the third), who faces the daunting task of revision, who accepts the challenges of publishing and marketing, who enlists the help of friends and colleagues on that long road of commitment to both craft and literary community.

If you're planning to attend the Write-a-thon--either at Snow City, or remotely--you might do a little prep work today. I'm planning to clean off my desk, a task I face at best once a year. (Watch out, dust bunnies.) You might want to write your goals for your write-a-thon time on Friday night, or for the months to follow, so that after some wind has filled your sails, you have a post-write-a-thon destination charted.

Best wishes, and let the typing begin!

3 comments:

Linda said...

Thanks, Andromeda - you are a constant source of inspiration.

Deb Vanasse said...

Sometimes collective energy makes all the difference...

Tele said...

Wishing you all a wonderful, productive, fun day tomorrow! I'll be write-a-thon'ing with you in spirit, sending good writerly thoughts from Bellingham. Thanks for being such an inspiring bunch!