Bleary, Jenny raised her head from the nest of wrappers, cans, and napkins on her desk. The clock said she’d been out for nearly two hours, and the open wordfile on her laptop still blared its humiliating message:

Page 19/19. 5862/5867 words.

“Holy hell,” she breathed. “I’m doomed.”

It had seemed like such a lark earlier. Jenny had heard of the International Book Authoring Event (InBoAuEv or “In-bow-ev” to those in the know) years ago, and it had always seemed like just the thing to soothe her restless writer’s soul, to put an end to all the starting and never finishing she seemed to do. The event’s challenge–write 200 pages or 80,000 words of a book, whichever came first, in the space of March–seemed eminently doable when broken down to six pages a day. And, indeed, Jenny had blazed through twelve pages in that first day.

But then the horror started. Characters lost their motivation and refused to behave, wandering aimlessly in Jenny’s mind’s eye. Her outline broke down in key places. Vacuuming the apartment or surfing internet cartoons gobbled up the time carefully allotted for writing. And now, five days in, she felt like a drowning sailor after a shipwreck–ironic, given that her tale was a modern-day pirate story.

“What’s it going to take to get this thing back on track?” she cried to no one in particular.

She was about to find out.