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Day 5: The Cruise of 40,000 Words


So my roommate, TeeJ, went to the Caribean and came back with a 40,000 word book, and I didn't even get a crummy t-shirt. She's already got two books to her name and, as she is quick to tell you, is an international best-selling, award-winning author, despite the fact that she hates to write. She will put it off until she simply can't anymore, and then does it all in one quick swoop. Her first book was written in one week. Her latest, the Caribean Cruise-crafted memoir, she completed in just three days. Three twelve-hour shifts to be exact. 36 hours! 40,000 words. The book is about her personal experience with domestic violence and she wanted it ready in time for Domestic Violence Month in October. She has been talking about the book for about two years now, and I have prodded her several times to write it, but has consistently put it off. Then at the beginning of August, she declared it was time to put pen to paper. Great, I thought, but then she added she wanted it published by October 1. Not so great.

I tried to reason with her, cajole her, shame her. She wasn't having it. So she went to work. . .on the book cover, on the marketing, on tie-in campaigns, but there seemed to be little actual writing going on. At the end of August, I stressed to her that this really wasn't possible given the time frame, even with self-publishing. She just looked at me like I was crazy and said, "But I'm going on a cruise."

"Even more reason to push back your publish date," I reasoned. What seemed crazy to me was the fact she was going to cruise the Caribean for a week with a looming deadline just three weeks after she got back.

"I'm going to write the book on the cruise," she clarified.

This seemed like a sure-fire recipe for disaster. How is it possible to write a book while on a class reunion party cruise? "That was the plan all along," she assured me. I took a wait and see attitude. Sure enough, on the first day of the cruise I began to see FaceBook posts of poolside parties, late night dances, karaoke, dinners, but nothing that indicated any writing happening.

She returned from the cruise today, and I picked her up at the airport. First thing I asked was, "How's the book?"

"Fine," she replied, looking out the window.

"Look me in the eye," I said, "and tell me how the book is."

She turned to me, looked me in the eye, and said, "It's done. 40,000 words."

40,000 words. On a cruise. Let that sink in for a moment. Apparently, on the third day, she grew tired of her former school companions and locked herself in her cabin and worked for three days in 12-hour shifts and knocked out 40,000 words. She merely shrugged at my amazement.

"I type fast."

I have yet to see the quality of this quantity of words pumped out in 36 hours, but it's not like she hasn't done it before and acheived award-winning status. My fellow writers and I should probably be glad she doesn't like to write; she could fill a bookstore within a year. Still, it gives me pause when I hear screenwriters complaining about the lack of time they have to accomplish a paltry page-a-day schedule. Perhaps we need to re-examine how we allocate the time we have. Or better yet, might I suggest we all take a cruise.

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