Well, I just posted the final installment of Tournament of Death — Chapter 16 & Epilogue. The “last gasp” in my 16+ chapter, 48,000-word, two-and-a-half-week odyssey.
What a long strange trip it’s been. By turns exhilarating and stressful and daunting and exhausting and thrilling. There were times when I thought I’d never finish it, and times when I thought I should never have started.
I began this venture by telling people, starting with my wonderful wife, about the “crazy project” I’d just thought up. To their everlasting credit (and shame), none of my friends and family ever told me it was a bad idea. Most, in fact, supported me unconditionally right from the start.
I started out with only a rough idea of where I wanted this to go and what kinds of characters I wanted to use. Some of the first ideas I had made it into the story, some — including at least one character listed on the web site — fell by the wayside. Everything was always in flux, which is how a fan-influence/real-world-event-influenced writing spectacular is supposed to work.
At least, that’s what I decided when I conceived this unique and groundbreaking challenge — an Olympian Challenge, as I called it.
The toughest part? I had way too much story for my initial 1000-1500 word per day estimate. Almost three times too much, as it turned out. That turned long days into incredibly long days and nights. Yet, I somehow managed to post a new episode on every day since I started — even if I sometimes (often) had to stay up past 3AM to do it!
The other toughest part was trying to fit the rest of my life around TOD. Fortunately, I didn’t have much scheduled in these 2 1/2 weeks — and luckily my wife was on vacation for part of the time, too. (Thanks for picking up the slack, Hon!)
The other, other hardest part was the publicity. Although I managed to get my Twitter updates (140-character info bites) out between writing & revising, doing the full-blown press releases always fell behind. Note to myself: prep that PR campaign ahead of time if you’re ever foolish enough to do this again.
The most annoying part turned out to be those donation buttons. They didn’t work properly from the start, and I never had the time (or programing ability) to get them working right — though on the night before the end, I managed to get one up and running properly (I think) on the TOD blog page. Lack of working buttons severely hurt the donation rate.
But this was never about money anyway, it was about the challenge of writing a novella (now more of a full-blown novel) in two weeks, live, with the whole world watching. And you know what? I DID IT!
Because of the way I did it (writing and revising every day as I went), I’m sure the prose is pretty raw in places. I’m sure there are errors of grammar, punctuation, and spelling that I’d have caught if I had done this all beforehand and then just posted the episodes day-by-day.
But that wasn’t the point of the experiment. The point was to have something “live,” interactive, and raw — primal text with a gut-wrenching action story that would hopefully pull readers along in its wake.
And now it’s done, and you can tell me how I did, either in person or by dropping me an email.
Should there be a Tournament of Death 2? Will there be one?
Time will tell.
Right now, though, it’s nearly time for bed, and I could use some rest.
— Steve Sullivan, August 24, 2008 – During the closing ceremony of the 2008 Olympic games.