The start of the year always seems to go much the same way. A lull, some planning, and then I’m flung into it face-first, whether I feel prepared or not. This year is the same as every other in that sense.

Of course, sometimes I have the luxury of preparation, or at least the luxury of knowing that I CAN be prepared if I feel inclined or have the time. What I’m facing right now is a pretty intense mixture of things I can and cannot prepare for. Being a major control-freak, I’m trying to make plans, whether it’s actually possible or not.

Coming up on the 22nd of February, I’ll be bonkers and doing an all-nighter for the Digital Writers/Emerging Writers Festival event, “The Book of the Night”. For this all-night event, twelve writers (I am one of them) are being challenged to write a book within a night. To do this, the night is broken into twelve 1-hour shifts. Each writer gets a brief update on where the book is up to, then sits down and does their thing for an hour. The Wheeler Centre will be open to the public, so anyone can swing past and suggest a plot twist or a new character. It’ll be loads of fun, very interactive and new. It will also be streamed online, so if you can’t sleep or if you’re not able to make it into the city for the event, you can join in from the comfort of your couch, using the #dwf14 hashtag.

Also, it’s a little bit scary – usually before things go out into the world, they undergo some pretty serious edits. The first edit usually involves printing the thing out before screwing it up and throwing it at my wall because it’s no good. That’s not an option for The Book of the Night. So, training has involved the following:


These are hastily-prepared flash cards. I put a timer on, and I open Monica Wood’s The Pocket Muse to a random page for my starting point. Every few minutes, or whenever I start to think I might need to stop for a second, I turn over a card. Whatever is on that card (“Music”, “A phone call”, “Fear”, “Mouse!”) gets worked into the story-in-progress. This is the closest thing I can think of to what may or may not happen on the night. 

My attempt to train for the untrainable, to prepare for the unpreparable, is proving productive if nothing else. I don’t know whether I’m getting any better at writing for a whole hour straight, or any more comfortable with the idea of unedited work being accessible by the masses, but I am creating strange and wonderful things. 

Also, by the time my 5am slot rolls around, I should be suitably over-tired and delirious. This can only be a good thing.

Another thing I’m doing as part of the Digital Writers’ Festival is this panel on writers collectives and place, with Geoff from Writers Bloc and various folks from Scissors Paper Pen, Twitch, and Stilts. You don’t even have to leave your house, and this one is on before your bed-time AND after your wake-up time.