Editor’s Note: Every Labour Day Weekend, hundreds of lovely Canadians send up a sacrificial offering of themselves to the gods of art by attempting to write a novel in 72 hours. If you’re so willing, check out www.3daynovel.com
To quarantine yourself in a small room no larger than a wealthy man’s closet and for seventy-two painfully consecutive hours straight, dwell and mull on but one solitary thing, to wake up after next to no sleep in the same clothes you went to bed in while ingesting rubbish that you would be ashamed for your mother to see, and then write until you are sore, sounds to many people (my mother included) totally crazy.
They say that the acids inside of the human stomach, the ones that could burn through a chesterfield or a loved one in seconds flat, change chemically according to one’s mood, and that the general healthiness of the insides can be directly correlated with one’s emotional state. I found out about the contest about a week-and-a-half before it was to start. Two weeks before, tops. I was constipated until it was over.
The national 3 Day Novel Contest had been running for twenty nine years as I had found out from a poster in the disgusting bathroom riddled with urine splash and cockroach of my favorite seedy bar. I had never heard of such a thing. What kind of a monster thought something like that up? A whole novel in three days? I decided to sign-up of course. Instantly I had grand visions of writing the work in its entirety in just one sitting, not stopping to eat or pee, all on my old BROTHER charger 11 typewriter with a bottle of whiskey to my right (I knew full well that I would have to stop to drink, something like this requires much concentration and just enough inebriated sense of rationality to get through successfully). Jack Kerouac wrote The Subterraneans in three days straight. Benzedrine. Speed. I had whiskey and wine and coffee, and besides, I read The Subterraneans, it wasn’t very good.
Later in the week, I sat down to think because I hadn’t the slightest inclination as to what to write. There Daft Punk visited me in a half lucid daydream as I was lazing about one particular gloomier-than-Radiohead kind of afternoon, and maybe it was just the perfect mix of synthesized vocals and cold coffee and that I had recently become absolutely terrified of the world ending in a short few years, but there came my idea, my catalyst I was in need of, Einstein!…of course, it was Einstein. I feverishly mapped out the whole book in a full rotation of three Daft Punk cds in my stereo on a sweaty gash of paper scraps. There would be Einstein who make a math mistake, the ghost of Galileo, a secret council of savant world leaders, a Scottish astrophysicist and his lady friend who was very pretty, an all American family of disproportionate size and intelligence, a homeless man on the cusp of a life crisis, and the realization that the universe isn’t expanding, in fact it is contracting, in short, its about the end of the world. Simple.
The first day was all cramping and sweating and cursing myself for getting into it. I gave up about eight times that first day, but not a ninth.
The second day, Sunday, I woke up renewed, interesting for only having about four hours sleep. I spoke no words, I saw nobody and I set to work in my little red room. I breathed whole paragraphs like pure oxygen, I was one with that little typing machine, no, I was a machine!
Come the last day, I had battled bouts of delirium, exhaustion, mad drunkenness, the shakes, panic and loneliness. ‘Jesus’, I thought, ‘nobody should have to ever do this.’ But I did, and I finished my book weighing in at 114 pages and about 57 hours of work. BEHOLD! Our Marvelous Towers, that was the title.
Since finishing, people have asked to if it was “worth” it, they say: “Tyler, was it worth it?” and then I explain:
$18.95……………….1.5L bottle of shiraz
$80…………………money lost from taking a day off of work
$0.52…………………stamp for postage
$21.50……………….printing and copying
$11.91……………….mailing manuscript express to Vancouver city
$55.43……………….four inspirational CDs (XTC, Holy Fuck, M.Ward, Hot Chip)
$13.99……………….Kicking Horse organic coffee (1 lb.)
Total: $252.82 to write a novel in three days. But yes, worth it indeed.