We at Common Novel are having a little dispute: I think that 2015 means that for sure we’re living in the future, while Rachel holds that we cannot say we are living in the future until 2020. In honesty, though, 1996 still sounds like a pretty new year to me (I think it’s the six. Sixes just sound sort of bright and shiny).
We wanted to briefly share a cool thing that we’re going to be working on in 2015: the 52 Week Short Story Challenge. The challenge is based on some writing advice from Ray Bradbury, who said that the “best hygiene for beginning writers or intermediate writers is to write a hell of a lot of short stories. If you can write one short story a week—doesn’t matter what the quality is to start, but at least you’re practicing, and at the end of a year you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones.”
Of course, since we’re lawyers, we’ve added our own pieces of interpretive guidance:
- Length doesn’t matter. A story can be five words or 7,500, and either is great and should be celebrated.
- Quality doesn’t matter. Whether a story is good, or bad, or absolute stink-up-the-place horse shit, it’s still a big achievement and we’re excited about it. Here’s Anne Lamont on shitty first drafts:
For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.
The first draft is the child's draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. If one of the characters wants to say, "Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?," you let her. No one is going to see it. If the kid wants to get into really sentimental, weepy, emotional territory, you let him. Just get it all down on paper because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you're supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might go -- but there was no way to get to this without first getting through the first five and a half pages.
And what other awesome things are you hoping to make happen in 2015? Let us know in the comments!