It took me a while to recover from the planning and participating in The Great Sussex Book Sprint, that’s why it has taken me 8 days to tell you about it.
The Book Sprint started on Tuesday 30th May at 10 am. At about 9 am I arrived in the Sussex Humanities Lab (SHL) in the Silverstone Building. Catherine Pope, our facilitator, was there already, setting up and writing a whole bunch of stuff on papers on the walls. It already looked like it was going to be busy and frantic. Stationary was spread on the tables, breakfast had been brought and the sun was shining in the garden. Slowly, the authors started arriving and we actually got to know each other for the first time.
It was kind of a slow start, other authors were on their way, trying to find their way to the SHL. At 10am sharp, Jane Harvell, Head of Academic Services & Special Collections of the Library welcomed us, saying that this was one of the biggest things that had come out of their 7-year collaboration with SAGE Publications. She wished us luck and left us in the hands of Catherine, who then introduced us to her giant time and her intimidating red stick. The Great Sussex Book Sprint had started and we had barely had a chance to even get to know each other.
The morning went by doing writing exercises, warming up. Lunch was quick, after 40 min everybody sat at their computers and worked, this was serious! Litres and litres of coffee, and loads of discussions later, the first day was over. It was a day full of questions, stress over working with a new unknown software, loss of data, etc. At 5pm we were set free and prompted to be back the next day ready to start at 10am.
The second morning was a bit faster. Getting there at 9.30 am some authors had already started working, coffee was on the tables, which were filling up with papers, pens, books,cups, fruit, etc. The atmosphere was building up. Today it was all about writing. Discussions were mostly left for the spontaneous breaks and lunch. Ideas were exchanged and the day went by fast. By now we are counting words, struggling with ideas, shifting thoughts, defying time and wondering
if we are at all able to see this through. At 1.30pm a yoga instructor from the SportsCentre would come to help us deal with stress, bad postures and a lot of sitting and typing. After 25 min of stretching, guided meditation and relaxation we were as good as new. Back to work, refreshed and re-energised.
Third day is frantic. We write and write. Catherine informs us of our deadline: “By tomorrow at noon all chapters must be ready”. Typing gets faster, coffee flows quicker, by now there is talk of beer, of sleeplessness, energy drinks have appeared and ideas have changed directions, gears are shifting and fatigue is kicking in.
On the last day there is silence. Messy tables and stares. Some have not slept at all, some have changed ideas and started a whole new chapter at the last-minute after seeing that the original ideas were just not working. At 11am, Catherine set her giant timer to a countdown. We are now dealing with referencing, formats, finalising, reviewing. It seems impossible, but somehow, after at least 40 hours (I’m sure that it was way more) of intensive writing and thinking, it seems like this is possible. It seems like we are actually going to finish a book in the fourth day and still, nobody talks about it. We just write. Whatever comes out, we’ll only know at the end.
And at noon, we release our chapters to a team of proofreaders based in the library. They are now editing, correcting and checking formats. It’s on their hands. Some authors struggle with referencing and formatting was very complicated with the software, this delayed the process massively, but at 7.30pm on Friday, 2nd June, we hit Publish and the book was out! The book is called Beyond the Boundaries of Home. Interdisciplinary approaches
We had done it! It was a crazy experiment. But now we can say, it can be done. Beers were popped open, a trip to the East Slope bar to buy beer and cider was in order. Table tennis games helped pass the time while librarians are working hard.
Needless to say, nothing would have been possible without the authors. They put their brains and their time into this. Thanks so much Alexa, Myles, Eduard, Naomi, Ketan and Tom for taking this so seriously, but being such a great group, that worked tirelessly through 4 days of emotions and stress to make this book happen. And for the cake, beers, laughs and ideas. Without your engagement, this would have not happen.
Last but not least, thanks to Beth and Helen, without their support we wouldn’t have been able to organise this at all. And they took care of all the logistics, the food, the publishing details, and so much more. All the staff that had to deal with our grammar and punctuation, with our horrible formatting and our referencing ignorance. Thanks for your patience and hard work on a Friday afternoon! And of course SAGE, that supported us financially. It took months and over 20 people to organise and make it happen, and it was worth it!
There is more to come regarding this issue. So keep an eye out if you are interested!
Thanks for reading.