When You’re Sleepless, Madness…er…Magic Happens!

I know I’ve been talking a lot about the Muskoka Novel Marathon lately, but I can’t help it. It’s coming. Like a freight train that sneaks up on ya when you’re walkin’ the tracks and singing old Buddy Holly tunes. Or…yeah! Blancmange! “See the train go down the track”.

The atmosphere of the marathon is such a magical non-quantifiable thing. You cannot write about it and do it justice. You just can’t. You try to stay up all weekend, you write non-stop…but you also socialize non-stop. You eat non-stop. You listen to music non-stop. Skip the light fandangle, et cetera, et cetera. It’s a high like no other.

As if there isn’t enough going on to warp your mind, you step out of the building on the Saturday night and the streets are turned into a carnival of milk chocolately, caramel stickable gooeyness. Because…don’t close your eyes…you have walked into the strange and magical world of Nuit Blanche North. Art installations and crickety crawling stilt-walking juggling sensations. And what would a Nuit be without a fire-eater.

(Just a side note, I love that most of my words today are being underlined in red squiggly lines.)

When THIS is happening INSIDE at the Novel Marathon, you pray that you will find sanity OUTSIDE! (-:
When THIS is happening INSIDE at the Novel Marathon, you pray that you will find sanity OUTSIDE! (-:

I always think of that classic line from Bill & Ted when I’m at the marathon. “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K!” That pretty much sums up the marathon. Just when you think you have to get outside to embrace a reality that is NORMAL, you walk out into this:

487676_10150921990482021_1957472384_nAnd this:

524078_10150921986312021_597850662_nBut before you run off down the street like a madman, you take a hard look at your surroundings and you realize that things are just as they should be. Writing a novel in a weekend SHOULD be a magical experience. Your heart SHOULD stop every now and again. You need these moments of wonder peppered throughout the weekend. It’s another classic reason for me to haul out that overused saying of mine. “Don’t be afraid to eat the dishes!” You’re gonna have some hard times over a 72-hour writing period. You’ll get cranky. You’ll get tired. You’ll get bloated. You’ll get indigestion out the wazoo! You need to step out of the world and into a carnival.

I’m sure that’s why the city planners threw Nuit Blanche into our weekend. They knew that into every novel marathoner’s life, a little magic must fall.

306834_10150922247147021_383794412_nThe tree that you see above ^ is a tree completely wrapped and enshrouded in TIES. Yes, ties. I sat beside that tree for about half an hour before I saw it at last year’s marathon. At first, that scared me. But when I stopped to think about it, it was pretty par for the course. I was, after all, writing. We marathoners took turns writing in the street in downtown Huntsville. We were our own art installation…and we collected a nice sum of money for the cause (the literacy program of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka). If you see us out in the middle of the street this July, BRING MONEY!

487375_10150922244967021_222067843_nI guess the lesson there is DON’T EXPECT TO QUESTION THE EFFICACY OF A TIE TREE WHEN YOU’RE MARATHONING. Or something like that.

531760_10150921991952021_1573570157_nDid I say juggling fire-eaters and stilt walkers? I think I meant fire-juggling stilt-walkers.

309348_10150923397417021_1104448547_nYou’ve heard of the player piano, I’m sure. But did you know that Huntsville had a play-me piano. Right there in the street. Just waitin’ to be played. How frickin’ awesome-sauce is that! My only complaint? I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PLAY A PIANO! I wish I did. That corner of the downtown core would be hoppin’! This year, one of my goals is to get a fellow marathoner punchin’ those keys to an awesome sing-a-long song. Or something like that.

382421_10150922163617021_777831740_nWRITING! It really does happen at these things! I have 5 novels to prove it. This is a shot of my screen during Nuit Blanche. If you want to know the height of exhilaration and dare-devilness, just write a novel in the street while hundreds of people are walking by reading over your shoulder! YIKES. Okay…I know you’re probably thinking that jumping out of an airplane is a whole new plateau of exhilaration that is miles above writing in the street. So what. By it’s very nature, it would have to be at least a mile above a street. There’d be no exhilaration jumping out of an airplane that’s parked on the runway. For a writer, public writing under a microscope pretty much does it for adrenalin rush-hour kicks.

So, am I excited for this year’s Muskoka Novel Marathon? Nah. Nothing good ever happens at these things. Just. BIC (bum-in-chair) writing. Nothing else. Move along. Nothing to see here (or do I mean see-hear-smell-touch-taste?)!

By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.


  1. I love this post! I love the two crazy wizards inside the Hunt 55 Club the most… they look like tons of fun! Wink-wink! See you soon, Mr. Craig… with hats & capes tucked under my arm. It’s going to be another great year at MNM! 😀

  2. AWESOME post, Kevin! Damn, I wish I lived in Canada or at least semi close to attend this writeathon and street action. I admire all the authors who attend and are able to write in public. Hope this year is a huge success for the literacy program.

  3. Have a truly wonderful weekend. We all know you live for these events. And having jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, I can tell you for me, writing in public would be far more of a terror..

  4. Thanks so much, Sloane! Can’t wait to share this year’s marathon with YOU and MUSA. (-;
    Thanks, Lynne! Yes…I do LIVE for these! I keep forgetting that you skydived. That is SO awesome. (-:

  5. I cannot tell you how much I need this weekend away! My newest novel is screaming inside my head waiting to be told, and I am even going out on a limb for the first time ever and getting index cards to keep me focused and on track with outlining. ( I’m normally a pantser)

    Truth be told though, I’m looking forward to writing my fingers to the bone as one part, and breaking bread (and breathing fire?) with the likes of you folk. I know it will be magical – how could it not be?

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