The Eleventh Hour Blog Post

Am writing this at the eleventh hour (literally – it’s 11+ pm!) on the eve of the 2009 24-hour playwriting competition… And as much as I would like to sound learned and esoteric and sophisticated and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, my feelings can only find expression in one (debatable) word – w00t! 😀

Staring at the Survival Kit (and procrastinating the actual packing), I’m awash (ahaha) with memories of my very first 24-hour playwriting…

In a whirlwind of 3 days, I’d seen the newspaper advert for the pre-contest workshop, attended, signed up, bugged 2 friends into signing up with me, frantically crammed on playwriting techniques all the way up to the last minute…

And then the day arrived, and the only thing I could think of was: “What should I wear?!?!”

Okay, to be honest, I did all my obsessing about favourite pens and writing paper and lucky soft toys and all that the night before… But I wanted to wear something artistic, something creative, that might help inspire me through the long hours ahead, and hopefully be comfortable enough to catch some shuteye in. I ended up with probably the ugliest-looking outfit in the history of the 24-hour playwriting competition! (You can probably spot me in the 2002 photos… Then again, please don’t.)

But the REAL advice I want to give to new participants of the 24-hour playwriting competition (henceforth “24-hour”) – probably too late if this entry even sees light – is this: Don’t Underestimate The Goodie Bag!

2002 being my first, I was determined not to go unprepared and turned up lugging a huge bag of stuff I might need and a heavy laptop bag. And then I registered, and was handed YET another bag, so I had to lug 3 bags of stuff around with me while listening to doorbells, or feeling gingerly around in a bag (more bags!), or trying to unlock a cabinet, or… Just take it from me, it wasn’t a good idea.

But I must say the goodie bag was one of the first things I was completely floored by. It had almost anything you could possibly want on an overnight stay (including Dove soap!) and more. It also highlighted to me that I was probably the last person in Singapore to discover there was such a thing as caffeine pills. For the rest of my life, I will never forget the caffeine pills, even though I never actually tried one.

Probably because I was trying to catch some shuteye on an IKEA bed. We slept on the beds! And used the breakfast trays to write on! And found the desk-and-office-chair combination that best suited us! What bliss.

I know, almost a page into my entry and I haven’t even talked about writing yet. To be honest, I didn’t even do much writing for the 1st 4 hours; with just 1 stimulus, the possibilities were just endless and I ended up with 4 outlines, none of which eventually made it into a script. Just wait till you hit the magical hour of 4am, when everything you write sounds incredibly hilarious and seems like a good idea at the time, but requires you to edit out two pages of stuff later and makes you wonder if there was something in the water. And let’s not forget the critical last 4 hours, where you scramble to shove in the last stimulus in a hopefully clever way and check your script a gazillion times and hope your laptop battery doesn’t die before you get to save and submit the file…

And then you get home, and collapse, and wonder if it was all really worth it. And then you realize, even if your play was the lousiest in the whole competition, it really was a tremendous experience and you wouldn’t have traded that 24 hours for anything else. (Except maybe world peace, but that’s a different story.)

So, honestly? Don’t worry about what you will write, or what you should bring, or who you will meet… Just allow the awesome experience to sweep you off your feet and take you – like estuary sediments – to a place where you DON’T belong, where somehow, somewhere, inspiration sparks.

As for me, I STILL don’t know what I will wear. One thing’s for sure, I’m not going to be in the running for Most Easily-recognizable Bum of 24-hour 2009!

Grace Toh

Participant, Saturday, July 18 12:27AM


One response to “The Eleventh Hour Blog Post

  1. Evidently, we are all a bunch of last-minute writers, and not only at the competition itself lol! 😛

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