There was a time when I thought writing a book was difficult, perhaps even impossible for any but a select few whose innate talent and carefully honed skill allowed them to grind out books over the course of years and years of great personal turmoil. (Well, plus a much more select few, such as Asimov, King, Clancy and Hubbard, who could apparently churn out huge, door-stopping tomes every month or two or three without apparent effort.) Still, I was determined to at least attempt to join that group of men and women which are called authors; I’ve always felt writing calling me.
To my luck, I stumbled across National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a community of people so called to writing that they work together supporting each other, all trying to write their own unique novel into existence at the same time. It was this supportive community that I found most attractive, fellow writers to share the experiences and struggles of writing with, to encourage and be encouraged by as we worked toward the same goal. The fact that the entire thing was based around what seemed at the time to be a ridiculous goal of writing an entire novel from start to finish (a first draft, anyway) in only 30 days seemed overwhelming and preposterous and I did not entirely expect to succeed, but I knew that I couldn’t ever finish writing a novel without starting one.
Since I first attempted it, during that first NaNoWriMo, I have completed four novels in under three years, and also put together a fifth book, a collection of short fiction and poetry.
Finishing a novel in a month? Done that.
A novel in two weeks? Did that, too.
A novel in eight days? Sure thing, no problem.
For my most recently completed novel, I wrote fully half of it in a single three-day weekend. All of these are, of course, simply the first drafts of books that have since been edited, copy-edited, typeset, and so forth until they were completed, readable books you can hold in your hands (or read on a screen). Also of note is that all of these things were accomplished in between working a full-time “day job” and without much sacrificing my other interests or social life (save for that three-day weekend spent entirely on writing). And it was all easy for me.
Now, I’m not yet writing the thick tomes of that select-of-the-select group, but quite intentionally, so far. I’m trying to write my books all approximately the same length so that I can get an idea of how fast I can write. The novel I wrote in a month is as long as the novel I wrote in two weeks, which is as long as the first draft of the one I wrote in eight days. But I think I can do better than that. In fact, I think I can write an entire book in a “single sitting.”
That is not to say I think I can go as long as it takes to write a book without physically standing from my seat; even if food and drink were at hand and I had a catheter installed, my back would start to kill me after a dozen hours or so, and my mind would weary eventually if not allowed intermission. Rather, I mean that I think I can start writing a book, and without going to sleep or work or doing any other real interrupting activity except for those required for continued comfort and living (‘input’, ‘output’, the occasional stroll), write a complete first draft of a book. A good book (probably a novel, perhaps a collection of linked stories) that anyone who likes my writing would like to read; not insane, undeveloped nonsense or dull uninteresting prose that so many would-be-authors find themselves creating when they find a full 30 days is not long enough to figure their story out. At the speeds I’ve been able to sustain on other projects when focused, I suspect that the shortest amount of time I could write a book of this length in is about 50 hours, so I’m going to give myself a little over three continuous days to attempt to write a Single-Sitting-Book.
I will begin writing after work on the evening of 9/1/2005 and I will write either until I am finished or until I have to return to work (which is the morning of either 9/5/2005 or 9/6/2005, depending upon Labor Day sceduling at work), hopefully I will complete the book with time to spare.
Like so many who attempt to complete marathon-like challenges, I am asking for you to pledge your support. There are direct costs involved in this attempt, extra food and drink and medicine to sustain me through all the extra hours I will be spending awake and busy during that weekend, but also other, indirect costs, related to being able to continue writing and offering my books for sale in paperback rather than merely electronic format. Any amount, even as little as a quarter, is appreciated; my goals are not high for this project. Remember, you’re supporting a madman who wants to commit an act of insanity for your entertainment, and open your wallets accordingly.
As thanks for your donation and support, everyone who donates (minimum pledge $0.25) will have access to an electronic copy (PDF) of the first-draft (and finished draft, when it is ready) of the Single-Sitting-Book. In addition, as soon as you have made a donation you will have access to a web page where you can vote on the idea or story that will be the “starting place” for the Single-Sitting-Book. If the first monetary pledge goal is not reached before I begin writing, I will take your votes into consideration but may decide to go a completely different direction, so if you want your votes to count, donate as much as you can, and encourage your friends to help out.
My primary goal is $150. This represents the actual costs of undertaking this project – it’s what I’ll have to pay out of pocket if no one donates anything. If donations reach $150 or more, two things will happen to benefit those who helped me reach this goal: First, I will definitely write on whatever option has the most votes when I sit down to begin writing (I will freeze the voting at that time). Second, everyone who donated will immediately have access to a free electronic copy (PDF) of Untrue Tales Book One.
My secondary goal is $300. This represents enough to cover my actual costs of producing a Single-Sitting-Book from start to finish, as well as enough to put my accounts square between me and my printer so I can afford to get ten or twenty copies of the book printed up to give away (or sell) in person. It also gives me a little grist to get things in motion for the next book after this one when the time comes, so I’m not forced to beg before taking action. If donations reach $300 or more, in addition to everything mentioned above, three things will happen: First, everyone who donated will immediately have access to a free electronic copy (PDF) of Untrue Tales Book Two. Second, everyone who donated (yes, even those who donated the minimum of a quarter) will get access to a private CafePress store with all my books available for exactly one penny over the CafePress base prices. Whatever CafePress charges to print the book or books of your choice, you pay that amount, plus one penny for me for each book, plus shipping/handling. Third, if donations reach $300 or more, a second drive for donations for Single-Sitting-Book#2 will be promptly opened, with similar incentives.
Finally, anyone who wishes to donate $30 or more will receive as a free gift (please email me for the details of this offer – if you donate via BitPass it’s anonymous, so if you donate $30 or more through BitPass you will NOT receive the following:) everything listed above for all goal amounts, whether goals are met or not, plus their choice of any one (the combined editions of Untrue Tales not included) paperback copy of any book I have written, including the Single-Sitting-Book as soon as it is available. That is, the most generous donators will receive free electronic copies of Untrue Tales Book One and Untrue Tales Book Two, plus access to vote on the content of the Single-Sitting-Book, plus access to the 1-penny-markup book store, all as soon as their donation is received, and then will also receive a physical copy of one of my books absolutely free.
The short version:
I’m asking for donations to help financially support a crazy writing goal. I’m going to (try to) write a novel in a single sitting over the first weekend of September. I will give you a free electronic copy of the finished novel (plus maybe more free stuff and great deals if certain financial goals are reached) if you donate at least a quarter. I will give you a free signed paperback copy of any of my books, plus all the other free stuff and great deals (regardless of meeting goals) if you donate $30 or more (email me about this). That’s about it. Tell your friends.