Autumn leaves, and winter eats and shoots

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 — 11:12pm | Literature

I did not enter a submission for the Mactaggart Writing Award. In fact, I was not eligible for the Mactaggart Writing Award. I did not find out I was ineligible until I already had a month’s worth of preparatory notes (consisting of sketches, quotations, jam session impressions, fragmentary passages, and a two-hour interview with a classical musician about her craft) and a rockin’-robin first draft well in progress.

But even if, hypothetically, I were eligible for the Mactaggart Writing Award – and I maintain that I could have won the bloody thing, though I’m aware that competition this year is a lot tighter (given my earnest flatmate’s hurried submission, which was already better than any of the prior student winners’ by a country mile) – I would have had to get around the impasse presented by the 3500-word limit, which I hit like a brick wall (or, perhaps, a four-way stop sign) with plenty left to say. And then there was the small impediment of stranding myself in Calgary.

This was my first attempt at experimental non-fiction (an essayist’s memoir in a fictive register, I’d call it), and word limits aside, I can say with confidence that I have the mojo to write such a thing. Moreover, I discovered the scope of ambition and intellectual responsibility that makes the writer’s task necessary and not merely a product of vanity. So I won’t say that this effort was in vain, even if it effectively precluded me from writing in this space for the past few weeks. (You didn’t miss much. The only posts I even considered were about modelling intuitive strategies for solving the Sudoku problem space as search algorithms, and I reckon there’s already plenty on the subject.)

Then again, I wonder how much of that creative awakening was thanks to all the drinks those fine guests at St. Joseph’s College bought me after this here cocktail pianist started showing off his knowledge of Nobuo Uematsu, and subsequently passing out to Coltrane. No matter. I credit the residual energy for propelling me to the final table at the POGOB Settlers of Catan tournament, where I finished second. (Damned last-minute brick theft – I was one roll of the dice from a guaranteed victory, too.)

National Novel Writing Month is suddenly looking like a good idea, though my academic commitments might have something to say about that. (Something parenthetical, even.)

Oh, and about Michael Cresta’s 830 game (which I’ll responsibly report as the 830-490 game, because the high score wasn’t the only remarkable element)… just read Stefan’s article on Slate. I’m going to catch up with the Scrabble community’s reactions before I determine what there is left for me to add.

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