Yesterday, courtesy of my friends at Baby Got Books, I found out about something called The First Chapters Writing Competition that is being held on a site called Gather.com. It has been rightly described as a kind of American Idol for novelists. Now, I am nothing if not a novelist. Okay. Maybe I'm nothing if not an aspiring novelist, but those are just the kind of jamokes they're looking for. The first prize is $5,000 and publication of the manuscript submitted by Touchstone/Fireside, which is an imprint of Simon & Schuster. I have decided to try to finish Drayton in time to enter. The deadline is March 15th.
Now, I'm probably about 2/3 of the way through on the manuscript, which, since I've got about 32,000 words written, leaves me somewhere between 10-and-20,000 short. The only way to accomplish this is to work on Drayton as close to every day as I can. (I have a wedding to go to in February; I might lose a day or two there.)
I've recently been tracking my progress in 40-day cycles, so I have some idea of whether I can pull this off. Since, in the most recent 40-day cycle, I worked on 16 of the last 18 days (88%), I think it is possible. Using Google Docs has made it easier for me to sneak in work sessions during the day, while I'm presumably getting paid to do something else. However, the thing is that I am employed in the office of the English Department of a prominent Southern University, my feeling is that should be paying me to do this. After all, should I win or at least be one of the five finalists, wouldn't the prestige of the department be increased? After all, it would be the English Department in which even the admins can write.
Anyway, I'm going to try to keep track of my progress here so that well-wishers can keep up with the process. For example, one of the quirks of the competition is that the entire manuscript needs to be submitted as well as separate documents representing the first three chapters. Since I was saving each chapter separately, I am now in the position of having to compile the whole thing in one long document.
Also, the first three chapters must be at least 2,000 words each. Well, my original Chapter One was about 1,600 words, so I've had to combine that with Chapter Two. The former Chapter Three is now Chapter Two. The new Chapter Three was cobbled together by conjoining the original Chapters Four and Five. It's very confusing.
Since I have tomorrow off, I'm hoping to really add some wordage. Wish me luck.