3-day novel writing in history

Illustration by Jonathan Adams

Illustration by Jonathan Adams

In the seven (!) years we’ve run the 3-Day Novel Contest (and over the many years we watched its magic before that) we’ve had the pleasure of seeing many take on the challenge in public: the two teams of 12 who undertook the contest along with regular challenges and general harassment for reality TV; a mother-daughter team who wrote in the lobby of their local arts centre; and, most recently, Don Britt, who is breaking out of the Labour Day tradition to write 24 complete 3-day novels in a single year—the last one at a Chapters in Edmonton. So it was interesting to read in the New York Times about Georges Simenon, a Parisian author who in 1927 said he would write a novel in 72 hours while suspended in a glass cage outside the Moulin Rouge. Says the Times:

“Members of the public would be invited to choose the novel’s characters, subject matter and title, while Simenon hammered out the pages on a typewriter. A newspaper advertisement promised the result would be ‘a record novel: record speed, record endurance and, dare we add, record talent!’ It was a marketing coup. As Pierre Assouline notes in Simenon: A Biography, journalists in Paris ‘talked of nothing else.’” [Full article]

Though Simenon was offered 100,000 francs for the event—and he pocketed 25,000 of that—he never went through with it. It was a publicity stunt, and since simply talking about it achieved the desired effect, he didn’t need to follow through. Too bad for him, we say… as anyone who has truly thrown themselves into the contest will attest, it is a remarkable creative experience, whether you do it in a glass box in Paris or alone your room.

So why will you take on the challenge? For the bragging rights? For the creative juice? Or just because it’s there? Whatever your motivation, we hope you’re ready for the next round. We’re madly working at launching this year’s marathon, which will take place September 3-5, 2011. Check back near the end of May for all the registration details!