Monday, November 1, 2010

Masterpiece in 30 Days

I attended the KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting today for the very first time at the Cisco office in Level 5, 1 Sentral here in Kuala Lumpur. And I was expeditiously roped in as the Toastmaster-of-the-Evening. There were only eleven of us at this meeting but we still had a great time as always! I was glad that I came because Kim did her maiden Ice-breaker speech this evening!

I was starry-eyed by this article I read in UK’s The Independent yesterday – today is the start of National Novel Writing Month, and during this month of November, aspiring novelists and budding writers around the world will put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – with the intention of turning out a 50,000-word book in only 30 days.

This “event” was held 11 years ago when 21 friends in America decided they had to take drastic action if they were ever to achieve their literary ambitions. I can relate to them because I am also one of them! Now up to 200,000 books are expected to be uploaded on the writing month website (NaNoWriMo) by the end of November.

Lindsey Grant, who helps run NaNoWriMo, said that 55 novels written under the scheme have gone on to publication. These include Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, which spent 12 weeks in The New York Times best-sellers list in 2006. "The idea is to get the rough drafts of the novels down," Ms Grant said. "But so many people then go on to rewrite."

Two years ago, Birdsong author Sebastian Faulks wrote a James Bond thriller, Devil May Care, in only six weeks – following the work pattern of Bond's creator, Ian Fleming.

"I enjoyed the rush," he said. "There was a way in which my own race to the finish line mirrored the chase of the plot. Novels that have been written quickly can retain a slightly torn-off, uneven quality – like life. This is certainly one of the miraculous things about Jean Brodie, where the story zooms back and forth through time. There is a careering, out-of-control feeling, which is exhilarating. The main danger is that the writer hasn't worked out his/her theme. They don't really know what the novel's about."

And if you are still not convinced that it is really possible to write a masterpiece in 30 days or less, consider this: Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote The Gambler in 26 days in 1866. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote A Study in Scarlet in three weeks in 1886. Muriel Spark wrote The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in one month in 1960. if they can do it, why not I?

I have been wanting to write stories but so far, I have not started, not even a line. Perhaps, I should participate in the National Novel Writing Month and this may just give me the impetus to commence writing a novella or even a novel. And then, hopefully I can see it published. This has always been my dream and I plan to dedicate next year’s November to achieve this – assuming I have still not begun my story-writing this year!

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