Braincrack: The Writers’ Hotel
In the April 2013 issue of The Red Bulletin Magazine, there is an article titled ‘The Lost Boys of BMX’, about a group of young BMX bikers who literally live in Unit 23, the skatepark they rebuilt by hand and have been offered lodging in by its owner, so they could be able to practice 24/7.
In the own words of Unit 23 member Kriss Kyle:
“I don’t think about how long I’ll be at Unit,” says Kyle. “Me and Jason [Phelan, a fellow BMXer] talked about getting a flat next year but, to be honest, I know I’d regret it. I’ve got this amazing skatepark I can ride when I want, I can literally get up and on my bike, I can party here with all my friends. I’ve got absolutely everything anyone could want.”
I can’t blame him.
Things like BMX build a very unique sense of camaraderie among its participants. When a group of people who frequent a skatepark get to know each other, they grow closer as practitioners of their art, and aim to get better and challenge each other not as a show of dominance but as a ritual of closeness and a training exercise. Each one aims to be the best so that the whole group, as devotees of the freestyle form, will be the best - if they’re all aiming to be Number One, then no matter who is, all of them are closer to being there too.
I wish that could happen for writing more often - not just one of those one-off retreats where you come out with a short story you’ll never share and a certificate of participation. I want a Unit 23 for writing - where the facilities are there for you to be able to get out of bed and start writing, where the food and the beds are there for you, where other people are aiming both to be the best and for you to be the best, where you are a congregation and writing is mass.
I have always wanted to be able to make that place. I want to make a building where maybe as much as a dozen or half-dozen people can stay, eat together, talk about projects, work on collaborative pieces together, even make collaborative series, even do whole-team series, even work together on large projects like magazines or shows. But that would be the hub. If you’re in, you’re in - by lying down on a bed you’re signing on to officially eat, sleep, and breathe the word.
It would be about bouncing ideas off each other, learning about style and voice from each other, having distraction-free spaces and times to work, waking up in a workshop space, sharing meals with comrades, and constantly being pressured not only to always make, but to always seek feedback, always publicly share, and always aim to be better and better than the last time you wrote.
I want that to happen. I want it to happen for people who are about to feel like they may never really get a chance to call themselves a writer (pro tip: do you write? there you go). I want it to happen so every NaNoWriMo people know there is a team that refuses to let its teammates down, and every other month we’re writing like it’s NaNoWriMo. I want it to happen so that team can get accustomed to being crazy about the word, and get people crazy about what that team can do with it.
I want it to happen because if it could happen for me I would jump at that chance.
Maybe, if I know who and how to ask, it can.