It’s almost time again for one of my favourite yearly writing projects. The Muskoka Novel Marathon! It’s coming. In 25 days, 11 hours, 36 minutes and 10 seconds…at last check! I love the site’s countdown clock. It sends a thrill down my spine every time I look in on it. I am SUCH A GEEK!

The marathon is an exciting event for writers, disguised as a fund-raiser. Actually, it well and truly IS a fund-raiser…but the value you get out of attending the marathon, from a writer’s perspective, is so concrete…one often forgets that it is benefiting anyone other than themselves.

But the Muskoka Novel Marathon is a WONDERFUL fund-raising event. Billed as WRITERS HELPING READERS, the marathon supports the Muskoka Literacy Council. Each year, between twenty and thirty writers gather together inHuntsville,Ontariofor 72 hours…and they each write a novel over the course of a single weekend. But before they arrive, each writer collects pledges for the fund-raising aspect of the event. All funds go to the literacy council, and those who sponsor the writers get a warm fuzzy feeling…they are helping people fight illiteracy. It’s a rather large battle…the fight against illiteracy. Writers, perhaps more than any other group in society, understand the value of the written word. They are often the second line of defense against illiteracy…the first being those who work tirelessly with the illiterate and reading impaired to improve their life skills so that they can, in turn, improve their very lives.

For this reason alone, the Muskoka Novel Marathon is a wonderful—and much needed—event. Society must stand together in the fight against such unnecessary social imbalances as illiteracy. By giving the Muskoka Literacy Council a helping hand in this way, the writers involved with this project are, in a very real way, paying it forward…each of us has a deep intense love for the written word. The word has given us so much joy…so much pleasure. We play in a field of words whenever we can, we get lost in the beauty each word possesses. We can’t imagine being lost in that field, without any sort of map to help guide our way—looking about and not knowing the richness that words have to offer us. To think of those struggling in that field…lost and scared and alone, stumbling through the chaos of the written word without understanding its meaning…it’s unbearable to even imagine. So pay it forward, we will. The marathon is all about WRITERS HELPING READERS. We’re so grateful that the people working tirelessly for the Muskoka Literacy Council are able to enrich the lives of those living in that cloud of illiteracy.

The other aspect of the marathon is how truly valuable it is to us as writers. It truly is a writing retreat. Not only are we frantically writing our way through the weekend in the hopes of having a finished novel to show for it in the end, but we are also communicating. We are sharing secrets and truths about our individual writing lives. We have aLOTof fun. There is a LOT of hilarity…especially in the middle of the night when you are struggling to stay awake and the giddiness has taken over and there is no way you can prevent yourself from being foolish, even if you wanted to. We sit. We write. We take communion in ourselves and in each other. We learn. We struggle. We laugh. We cry.

The Muskoka Novel Marathon, in my humble opinion, is a rite of passage for writers. It is a BIC event (Bum In Chair). It is a calling to our sense of dedication as writers. I often hear, “You’d have to be crazy to give up an entire summer weekend to put yourself through a three-day sleepless ordeal like that!” No. We’re not crazy. We’re taking a stand—against illiteracy and for dedication to our craft.

Okay…yeah. And I guess, technically, we could be considered a little bit crazy. But if writing a novel over the course of a weekend is crazy, than I don’t want to be un-crazy.

If you would like to help take a stand against illiteracy, you could sponsor me in this year’s Muskoka Novel Marathon. All donations over $10 are tax deductible. The Muskoka Literacy Council is a registered charity. You can contact me at kevintcraig @ hotmail dot com. I would be able to take your donation through Paypal…or, I can give you the information needed to send a cheque. All donations would be greatly appreciated. Together, we can wipe out illiteracy. I truly believe that!

This year’s Marathon goal is to raise $10,000.00 for the council. With your help, we can meet that goal!

 Don’t forget to enter to win 1 of 3 copies of my new YA novel, SUMMER ON FIRE! Click the book cover below for details:

Summer on Fire, by Kevin Craig