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Louie Saves the Day

Posted by Les Becker on September 6, 2007 in The 3-Day-Novel Contest, Writing |
Magic text

What I was doing over the Labour Day weekend

8 bottles of Heineken, 4 litres of ginger ale, 14 bologna & cheese sandwiches, a box of Honey-Nut Cheerios, 3 litres of 2% milk, 1 pizza (thank you Food Fairy), 6 cans of V8, 12 chocolate meal supplement drinks, and FOUR AND A HALF packs of cigarettes later, I kid you not….I crawled out from behind the bamboo curtain with a finished something to send here.

Finished, I say. You heard me, right? Just in case you didn’t….

Finished.

A couple of weeks ago, when I was having all that trouble and angst over not being able to “hear the click” to the point that I couldn’t even bring myself to open up a blank page in Word for fear that it would still be blank an hour later, I remembered this little doodad. I like it, because it almost ALWAYS gives me an immediate, usually completely off-the-wall idea that doesn’t necessarily have to grow into a feature-length screenplay or novel, which, of course, makes it that much simpler to write. Right? Yeah. In theory, anyway.

This time, the little doodad turned up these words:

GEOLOGIST BEACH SPRING LAMP CAR CHARITY

Almost immediately, the entire outline of a story, beginning-middle-end, fell neatly into place in the filing cabinet in the center of my brain, already filed in a folder neatly labeled, “Short-Shorts for the Blog”.

It was a stupid little fluffy piece of saccharine-sweet romance (puke…*), but it solved my problem. Again, in theory.

And then, I visited my parents, and my mother blew my plans for the story into confetti by handing me a clipping from the local paper:

“Ladies and gentlemen,

start your pens

Area writers to enter 3-day writing marathon”

Way back in the “olden days” my mom used to clip things like this out of the paper every chance she got. She was my biggest supporter (sometimes my only supporter); but over the years, support from all sides dwindled away. Nobody respects a chicken-shit writer who stops making submissions, and then stops finishing the story, and finally stops starting. When I again fired up the furnace on New Year’s Day of 2002, I don’t think even my mom quite believed in me anymore.

So, when she handed me this clipping, I decided this was my chance to redeem myself – at least in the eyes of my mother, which is pretty damned important to me – and I vowed to enter. Once I got home that night, I checked out the regs online before I even took off my shoes. I printed the entry form, wrote a check that I couldn’t really afford to write, addressed the envelope and prayed I’d have the guts to buy a stamp the next day.

And I did.

I double and triple-checked that file folder in my head every day until start time, just to reassure myself that it was still there. Yup. So far, so good – but the closer I got to 12:01 AM of Day 1, the more afraid I got, because… well, because that’s what I do.

Once I’d started, though, and I heard that “click” (Thank You Lord of Audible Clicks, Where ever, What ever, Who ever You are), I felt safe enough to blog about it, but not safe enough to reveal all. I figured, since I’d promised to tell the secret to the blogosphere when it was all over, it would give me incentive to not make a fool of myself. Again. As long as I finished it, I would be saving face.

And I did.

Apparently, the average length of the average “novel” entered in this contest is between 100 and 150 double-spaced pages, which, in my mind at least, doesn’t exactly constitute a “novel”, or even a “novella” (is there such a thing as a “novelette”? I think there is.), but I guess one couldn’t expect much more in a 3-day marathon, either.

Odd how I can’t seem to sleep – for months – any other time, but when I need to stay awake, I can’t keep my eyes open. Sleeping at all meant I couldn’t hit the “average” length – my “stupid little fluffy piece of saccharine-sweet romance” ended on page 87, but –

I did it.

And Ruby signed as my confirmation witness, bless her heart, and I printed off four copies: one for Ruby, one for my mother, one to send as my entry, and one for me to gloat over. One step left waiting for me to trip myself up by chickening out: actually sending it off. The closer I got to the mall and the postal outlet yesterday, the more “the time to chicken out is now” I felt, but the last thing I wanted to have to do was to say here (or to my mother) that I didn’t follow through.

I marched bravely up to the counter, paid my $12.18 to ship the thing to Vancouver, and dug into my pocket for the mailing address. Hmmmm…. where’d I put it? Checked the packsack. Not there. Checked my jacket. Nope. Panicked. Cried a little while asking the nice lady behind the counter if Canada Post had, by chance, an internet connection I could use to get the address. Nope.

I knew if I went all the way back home to get that address, I’d miss supper with my parents (and I knew if that happened, my mom would not only think it was because I really hadn’t finished my “novel”, but would tell me so). And I knew that if I waited until the next day, being my own worst enemy and all, I wouldn’t get the guts back up to send it at all. So I panicked some more. And then, the nice lady behind the counter suggested I go up the mall to the Formerly-Known-As-Stereo-Hut store, where I might be able to convince the proprietor to let me use one of their computers to get the address.

And who might the proprietor of the store Formerly-Known-As-Stereo-Hut be…?

None other than Louie. Remember him? 🙂

So, I did, and he did, and as soon as the nice lady behind the counter at the postal outlet had dropped the package into the “out” box, my heart dislodged itself from the uncomfortable position in my throat that it had crawled up into when my mom first handed me that clipping.

I did it.

So, that’s my Big Secretive-ish Project, revealed.

Oh, and the Freaky-Deaky Thing…? It’s a slightly undersized, slightly malformed Lemon Cucumber.

Random Song for the Day: “Kodachrome” – Simon and Garfunkel

 

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