I’m in the habit of thinking that my next book is July’s Welcome to Normal (the collection in Australia and NZ, the e-story everywhere else). But, no, my next book is a far crazier, far more compressed creature that has yet to take shape. In fact, I’m not even allowed to think about it yet. It’s the 24-hour book, and I’m one of the team who’ll be working on it. My job is to knock out 5000 sparkling new words on Monday, ready for publication on Tuesday.
All the writers will get started at midday in Brisbane (GMT+10) and some time that night we’ll hand over to editors, who will edit into the morning. By midday Tuesday, the book will be available worldwide as a free ebook and the first print copy will emerge from a machine at the Brooklyn Public Library (where it will still be Monday, making this as close to time travel as most of us are likely to get).
But there’s more. In the interests of making a spectacle of ourselves – why take on something this ridiculous and do it in private, after all – the rule is that we upload regularly as we go, so that anyone anywhere can watch the progress we’re making. Or not. And make comments. There will also be bloggers monitoring us, making sure not a bead of sweat, muttered profanity or catheter change is missed. If they’re not too bright, they’ll be interrupting us to ask for comments.
So why why why did I let myself get talked into this? It’s the opposite of plenty that I’ve taught myself to stand for – the clear focused work of one mind on its own best ideas, taking time to think and time to get things right (feel free to keep to yourself any thoughts that this is never evident in the finished product), but what the hell. I say No to so many things that occasionally I find myself saying Yes when I least expect it. I said Yes.
I said Yes because it’s like theatre sports for writers, I said Yes because I don’t often get to play on a team, I said Yes because we get to make a game of it and have our best and worst stuff witnessed by the world, I said yes because it’s unlikely to kill me, but ultimately I said Yes because I said Yes. And then I thought about it and wondered what I’d got myself into.
We’ve collectively come up with a loose game plan, we’re not allowed to prepare beyond that and on Monday we enter the writing frenzy. That looks like three wrong ideas to me, which makes it interesting to explore. At least we’re not responsible for making a 24-hr building or a 24-hr passenger jet, or something else that might have consequences. And it turns out there’s free pizza.
The game plan is nothing more than a character and a situation, but Stephen King says that’s all we need. He didn’t say anything about writing and publishing the entire thing in a day though.
It’s all being coordinated by if:book Australia’s Simon Groth, described on their website as ‘author, editor and digital experimenter’. I’m totally comfortable with the first two, but my medical degree has me somewhat wary of the the third. Perhaps that’ll come into play if we start to doze and he needs us to get our minds back on the job.
Please join us on Sun&Mon/Mon&Tue (depending on where you are). Come and see if it’s all crap, or if crap under this amount of compression might yield a few small splinters of diamond. Or just visit because you want to see Simon the digital experimenter locked in a windowless room with eight other semi-consenting authors.
We’ll be at if:book Australia’s 24-hour book.