Testing my limits

In one glorious sleep-deprived night at Clarion South last year, I wrote an entire novelette.

For the two weeks prior, I’d been nursing and crafting and plotting a masterful horror story. One I’d planned to put in front of Ellen Datlow. I’d thought I’d tackled this story well – plot arc, character motivations, moments of creepiness and claustrophobia. Alas, when Ellen did see it, despite my careful nurturing, it struck her as just another monster story. (Incidentally, that story, since revised and sharpened, and now one of my favourites, will appear in Borderlands #7 as ‘The Garden Shed Pact‘). Nursing my disappointment, I booked another crit spot with Ellen at the end of that week and then did sweet FA for two days until I had only one night to complete another story.

That night, after reading through my crits in the afternoon and skipping dinner, I settled into the novelette. In the wee hours, the fantastical Japanese folk hero Yamabushi Kaidan was born in the novelette ‘Yamabushi Kaidan and the Smoke Dragon‘. The story had a few kinks, and more than a few typos, but it went down well with most of the Clarionites, and spawned a sequel the very next week (also written in a one-night sitting, but instead of 9k words, I only managed 5k, with a vital section glossed over) and an entire series of adventures planned.

My first night with Yamabushi Kaidan taught me many things. Significantly, it taught me I can write fluently and reasonably clearly under pressure.

So now I’m going to test my limits as a writer even more.

I’ve signed up for the 3-day novel race, which for me will take place this long weekend.

From 8pm this Friday night, with allotted 5-hour sleeps between 1am and 6am each morning, I will write non-stop until 8pm Monday night. My aim is to write Beyond the Black Door, a surrealistic expansion (or second installment, to be precise) of my short story, The Black Door (predictable enough for ya?). It’s meant to be novel sized, but I’m aiming for 30-40k. 50k would be a milestone and a bonus, but more than high word counts, I’m hoping the weird-as-all-hell story will finally pour out of me. It’s threatened to a couple of times before, but I’ve never been in a position to let it. So now’s the chance.

This could be an exciting experiment, or roadkill waiting to happen. I guess I’ll find out this time next week which one it is to be.

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