It’s all go in the Forest Cafe over the next 36 hours as 3 Bristo Place hosts a pair of epic marathons in performance and writing.

I had hoped to join in with the latter, ominously titled They Shoot Writers, Don’t They? But unfortunately prior engagements (work today and a mega exciting interview on Friday, more on which after it happens) got in the way and I can’t make it.  Still, I’m planning to pop in and out of the forest for the latter part of the event, and hopefully I will be blogging about it in a live stylee.

Here’s the background, courtesy of Rachel from Inky Fingers:

“In one of our more frenzied, sleep deprived planning moments, Inky Fingers had an idea. An idea as staggering in its genius as it is elegant in its simplicity. Or maybe it’s simply a little sadistic.

Why don’t we get a bunch of writers and make them stay in a room for 36 hours and…you know…write? And see how long they last?

 It could be a beautiful hothouse of concentrated creativity and intense fervour. That or we could end up with a room resembling apocalypse in the asylum…”

As the kind of person who would write a book every month for a year, this is just the kind of harebrained writing scheme that makes me tick.  So what are the rules?

  1. The marathon lasts 36 hours, from 10am Thursday 11 August to 10pm Friday 12 August.
  2. Participants can leave at any time, for whatever reason.
  3. At the end of each hourly interval, participants must begin a new piece of writing. The previous hour’s piece of writing will be collected and reviewed by the Inky Finger adjudicators to be considered for the prizes available.
  4. Pieces of writing can be prose, poetry, scripts or anything in between.
  5. Prizes will be awarded to the Most Prolific Writer (the most number of pieces begun), Most Complete Pieces, Last Wo(man) Standing, and a few others we’re working on.
  6. The Last (Wo)man Standing will be given the opportunity to perform at the Inky Fingers Open Mic on Saturday 13 August.

How hard can that be?  Well pretty damned, if my last attempt at a writing all-nighter was anything to go by… but if you just wrote a limerick every hour between 3am and 9am you’d be able to rest and would probably then get a second wind.  Not that I’m condoning limericks.

There are twenty places available, although I’m not sure whether they were all filled in the end – will find that out for you when I pop up later today.  Writers are not allowed laptops (presumably because they could cheat and use stuff they’ve already written?) so have to bring their own writing supplies.  I hope someone shows up with a quill.

Participants get one token per day for a free meal from the cafe (which is awesome, by the way, if you haven’t eaten there I urge you to do so) and of course tea and coffee are available – it would be unthinkable to put a bunch of writers in a room for more than half an hour without them.  Maybe that’s the starting premise for November’s graphic novel…

 Anyone wishing to get involved for a briefer period of time than 36 hours – hey, whatever floats your boat – can go along between 12pm and 10pm on either day and grab a desk.  Time for such folks is limited to an hour, which is a good length to get something down without stressing yourself out about it.  I also find that writing outside the flat surrounded by other people who are also writing can be quite cathartic, but it doesn’t work for everyone.  Still, this is as good a way as any to test it out.

Meanwhile, also in The Forest Cafe, also starting at 10am today and carrying on till 7pm tomorrow (Friday) there is a poetry marathon organised by Kevin Cadwallender of Red Squirrel Press.  He hopes to have 100 poets read for 15 minutes each.  There are a couple of breaks in this one, which is fair enough really given the sheer volume of people involved.

It runs from 10am today (Thursday 11th) till 3am.  There is a break between 7pm and 10pm for a separate poetry event being run by that Inky Fingers lot (The Tiara Gynelogues followed by an open mic session).  The marathon starts up at 8am tomorrow (Friday 12th) and runs till 7pm.   Then there’s another poetry event directly afterwards, A Knife Fight in a Telephone Box, featuring poets from Salt Publishing…  That’s a lot of poetry. 

The marathon itself contains readings from Emily Dodd, who did the guest post about stalking comedians this week, and Young Dawkins, who I’ll have a guest post from at the weekend; as well as Eleanor Livingstone  director of the Stanza Poetry Festival in St Andrews, and lots of other great names in local poetry.

And did I mention that all of this is happening for free?  Well it is.  So there’s no excuse not to pop in to support these screeds poets and writers even if, like me, you have work during the day.  See you there.