Well, hasn’t this been interesting?
There have been many more replies to the Dickens Challenge than the ones you see here. I also put it up on Crimespace, and people responded to my page there, while others used the CONTACT TIM button on my site rather than responding to the blog post.
All that response has expanded my idea of how this might work. I’m going to list some of those below, but first, a request: Could everyone who plans to participate please send me your URL, your name (or whatever name you want used), 2-3 sentences about yourself, and either a title or a very brief description of what you’ll be writing? I’ll pull all that material into a central linking document so anyone who visits my site can go to yours, and then (if you want) you can copy it, modify it as you like, and put it on your own site. That way, we’ll all be referring our readers to the other writers in the Challenge. (Please also send me your e-mail address so we can communicate directly and privately — if there are questions, for example.)
About the Challenge:
1. We’re not challenging Dickens, which would be suicide, and we’re not challenging each other, either. We’re challenging ourselves — to loosen up in our writing, to stop being obsessive about each comma and modifier, and to put something out there while it’s still in progress. This is supposed to be fun and maybe to let a little light into a writing process that has, perhaps, gotten cramped, as mine certainly does from time to time. There are no winners, except to the extent that each of us benefits from the exercise.
2. Any kind of writing is cool. It can be a novel, a novella, a memoir, a biography, a chain of linked shirt stories — anything.
3. A chapter (or some kind of unit) per week is ideal. Assuming that we eventually attract readers, this is probably the frequency that will keep them coming back. I think it’s also a manageable amount of writing. I found out myself that writing my chapter early gives me the chance to fiddle with it some before pushing it out of the nest.
4. While the writing is open, in the sense that anyone can read it, I would like to institute a closed forum that only contributing writers can enter. This would serve as an extended writers’ group, where we could all post reaction to the work while observing the usual group rules –no destructive criticism, emphasize strengths, etc. I have my Web guys working on this. In the meantime, though, I think it would be great if participants used the comment function for each post to weigh in.
5. Some of us are starting this coming Monday, December 17. Anyone may start whenever he or she wishes. I’d like it if you sent a response to this mail letting me know when you’re going to start so I can post it. Other members of the Challenge might also want to post it.
6. Anyone may quit whenever he or she desires. We’ll miss you if you do.
7. Eventually, I’d love to see a dedicated site for this, with an explanation of the project, rundowns on the contributors, and links to all the writing. For the present, I’ll just do this on my site, and each of you can do as much or as little as you like on your own.
8. More than anything, I’m hoping this will be fun, that it’ll blow out some cobwebs, and that it will help to teach us how to put our inner demons in their proper places, which is to say locked in small iron boxes. All the best to all of you. And let the Challenge begin!
(Trumpets and a short excerpt of the Hallellujah Chorus.)