Never Take Your Gifts for Granted and Always Grant Your Friends Gifts #MNM2015

#MNM2015 – It’s here in one more sleep. This is the night before Christmas. All through the house, everyone is stirring and all writers are up. Visions of characters swim in our heads, in the hopes that St. Francis soon would be there. One more sleep and I am humming one more colour. I have my playlist chosen for this year’s manuscript. It’s a doozy. I seriously cannot wait to begin writing this manuscript. It’s been too long since I felt this way.

The Muskoka Novel Marathon organizers periodically send out letters of encouragement and hope from marathoners…to the rest of the marathoners…in the days and weeks leading up to the marathon. And while the marathon takes place.

Today, they sent out a letter I penned last year. I include it here…because I think it might actually capture the essence of what we do and why we do it…and how we love. As humans, as writers, as friends.

At the Muskoka Novel Marathon, all are welcome and all are welcomed. We are writers helping readers…and writers helping each other.

Here is today’s #MNM2015 Letter to the participants:

When I walked into my first Muskoka Novel Marathon, I entered on my tippy tippy toes in anticipation. But I was also terrified out of my ever-loving mind. I’m a manic-edge-of-the-seat writer, so the Muskoka Novel Marathon spoke to me. Actually, it screamed at me. BE HERE NOW! So I threw caution to the wind and signed up.

It’s hard to find the perfect writing practice for yourself. But from the first hours of my very first marathon, I knew I had discovered my practice. Write a novel in one sitting! Before I arrived, I thought the feat impossible. Once there, I knew I had found my WAY. What was terrifying as a concept, became the most comforting/comfortable thing I could imagine for my writing life. It’s the only way I want to write. And I get to do it in communion with other writers. At the marathon, you will meet writers at their very best…skating the edge of wonder and giddy with excitement. We arrive on our first year as strangers, but we go home with a new family…alumni of a wonderful—and wonderfully nurturing—society.

If you haven’t been yet, you may be a bit terrified by my words. You may be asking yourself, “Do I really want to drink this Kool-Aid?” But once you arrive—once you’re in your seat writing, talking to your neighbours, breaking bread with your fellow writers—you’ll get it. You will be a member of an elite society…a society that is inclusive of all those who find the courage to enter.

I have been fortunate enough to have won the Best Novel Award four times. I don’t know how it happened. I only know that once I enter that building and sit down and start writing, I’m there. I can clear the clouds of my workaday life and drop myself so deeply into story that I live the novel I’m writing.

ONE SITTING! How generous of a thing is that to do for oneself?! Live inside your own imaginary world without leaving it for an entire three days. Nothing distracts you. Not even the often boisterous camaraderie of your fellow writers. You just sit, you just write…and you enjoy the ride. You will find that your characters will like it this way. They don’t pout in a corner because you abandoned them for a week as you found yourself too busy to attend to them. They will be happy to live their lives non-stop. They will reveal untold gifts to you over your weekend writing extravaganza. All you have to do is keep your fingers moving at the right clip to keep up with the story! The novel marathon writing experience is one you will not soon forget. For it truly does feel like the novel is writing itself.

And if you have blocks or plot problems or difficult corners to walk yourself out of…you are in the company of forty other writers. You will find that their generosity of spirit is never-ending. At the Muskoka Novel Marathon no writer gets left behind! There is always someone there to take your hand. Encouragement is bountiful!

So whether you’re a seasoned marathoner, or this is your first year…have no fear! You’re not in this alone. Just as we rally around the cause for literacy, we rally around each other. To this year’s newbies, I say this: WELCOME TO THE FAMILY! May your experience be filled with magic and light!

 I love this gift I’ve been given…the gift to form words into thoughts, into sentences, into paragraphs, into stories, into worlds. I never take it for granted. I’m extremely grateful for the Muskoka Novel Marathon for granting us writers the beauty of 72 hours with our own thoughts. We are blessed. Blessed that we have found our bliss in creative writing…and blessed that we have found each other.

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.

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