For the third year in a row, I am going to take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For those of you unfamiliar with this annual contest, the challenge is deceptively simple: you have the 30 days of November in which to write a novel of no less than 50,000 words. Sounds easy, right?
Wrong. My first attempt ended in failure. I shut up shop after ten days, much to my dismay. Last year was better, though; I completed the challenge with days to spare. The story itself was a bit iffy but it served as a template of sorts to my ongoing work in progress.
This year I want my friends and readers to challenge me. Last weekend I went to see the musical Wicked in London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre. As you may know, it’s based on a novel written by Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Basically it’s a retelling of the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but paints Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the title) as a misunderstood character and one that readers ended up rooting for, or at the very least sympathising with.
The musical is stunning and seeing it is definitely a high point of my year so far. (I saw Les Miserables, too, but that’s a subject for another day.) But what really got me thinking was the sheer audacity of the author. Maguire took a well-loved classic and twisted it into something else, something distinctive, something with its own identity.
My challenge to you is to pick a classic for me. Find a book that is as popular as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, then challenge me to do a Wicked on it. As long as it’s not as massive as War and Peace or as obscure as Ulysses, then I’ll consider it. Allow me at least a week to read it, if I haven’t done so already, then let me at it.
Am I being foolhardy? Am I setting myself up for a fall? Or do I have no original ideas of my own? The answers are possibly, very possibly, and yes, I do. But I fancy this.
Please give me your ideas, please. I would love to hear your feedback.