Monday, October 27, 2008

Sledgehammer Recap

Okay, so I'm a little late in posting on Sledgehammer, but that doesn't mean it hasn't had my adrenaline going for the last week! Sledgehammer took place in Portland on October 18 and 19, and I, for one, had a blast. We had 11 teams register for the 36-hour writing challenge--complete with scavenger hunt and optional teamwork--and 100 percent more who said they wouldn't miss it again for the world. I think that means we'll make it annual!

Teams or individuals were required to write a short story completely within the 36 hours dedicated for the contest. They had to follow clues to three Portland businesses to pick up writing prompts that were required to be included in the final product. Prompts included:

the sushi chef from Mizu Sushi
dialogue written by Writers' Dojo members
a three-line excerpt from the book Visibility
the phrase all girl summer fun

With those same four prompts appearing in each story, results varied greatly. Judge Jan Underwood, 2005 winner of the 3-Day Novel Contest and Portland resident, summed them up with, "These eight stories range in tone from farcical to contemplative. Three include romance and three involve elements of the supernatural. Settings range from a snow-bound prairie town to an antique tractor fair to our own dear Portland."

If you've got your editor eye working, you saw that Jan said "eight stories." Yes, it's true. We had three tragic losses along the way. Actually, we don't know if they were tragic in any capacity other than not finishing the stories, and we certainly hope all contestants are alive, well, and still writing.

From the participants who finished, feedback includes:

"Thanks for getting me started on writing! Writing the story helped me gauge the extent of my imagination, and how difficult it is to be a writer. To be honest, I never expected to write something dark, but that is what came out. I realized that writing is that less explored mode of self-expression, which is something I have never explored earlier. I really appreciate your efforts, and I hope you have great success in this and the future years in SledgeHammer!"

"Nice job putting everything together! It was really fun, even the frantic-revising-until-the-last-minute part."

We also had amazing support from the business community in Portland, with 30 businesses donating to our prize package, which totaled over $3,000 worth of prizes, including a bike tour of Hawaii from Common Circle Expeditions, a lunch meeting with literary agent Cathy Fowler, and oodles of gift certificates for food, books, classes, writing community membership, and much more.

The Oregonian came out too, immortalizing our inaugural event and one participant's sweatpants. Check out the article here.

In short, we love this time-constrained writing challenge and will definitely be doing it again next year. Watch for us next fall!

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