Cloistered Would-Be Novelist to Revel in 'Absurdity' of Deadline

Published 09.03.2009

Landscape/Plant Production
Student News
School of Transportation & Natural Resources Technologies News

Garrett M. BookWhile many will spend the three-day holiday weekend away from classroom buildings, enjoying the outdoors as summer wends its way to a close, one Pennsylvania College of Technology student will spend the full weekend with his laptop computer in Room 166 of the Bush Campus Center.

Garrett M. Book, of Lebanon, has chosen to participate in the International 3-Day Novel Contest.

"The 3-Day Novel Contest is absurd. The premise is absurd. The expectations are absurd. I love that," Book said. "That's what got me hooked."

The contest based in Vancouver, British Columbia has run every Labor Day weekend since 1977. Its participants who hail from around the world may begin writing at midnight Friday and must stop by midnight Monday. The goal is to create a novel in 72 hours. Contestants may prepare an outline before the contest begins, but no more.

Book is a second-year student in the ornamental horticulture: landscape technology emphasis. The challenge of the contest, he says, will be "reining in my madness."

"I plan on going to CC 166 late Friday night with my outline, drawn on several long yards of tracing paper; my journal, in which I've been taking notes; my coffee maker, for obvious reasons; and some Oats and Honey Nature Valley bars those things are delicious and I don't plan on leaving until Monday night around midnight.

"I might step out here and there for fresh air, but there's good writing medicine in that recirculated Campus Center air some of my best writing has been done while breathing that air," he continued. "But I get cabin fever and stir crazy. I'm a landscape major for that reason. I like working, and I like being outside. Expect weird things to happen in CC 166."

The contest gives Book another chance to hone his craft, as he says repetition helps an artist find his voice.

"I write as much as I can," he said. "Since coming back to school, I've finished three essays that I'd started last year, which I'm pretty happy with."

He calls his style "sick," adding that he likes "dabbling in taboo arenas."

While all he has on paper is an outline, Book says he's been mulling since March the story he'll write.

"By this point, I've gotten the characters and plot down pretty well." Even this week, though, he was thinking of new plot turns to improve his concept.

Although he's not ready to describe the plot in any detail, he gave a hint to his concept.

"What I can say, is that it will be called "˜Pentecostal,' and follow a young deadbeat overwhelmed by nearly everything. It will, in a way, be about writing so that my insanity over the weekend will reflect his over the story but it will also be, above all, both a satire of and homage to religion."

The contest is judged by a panel from the writing and publishing community. First prize is a contract to publish the novel. Second prize is $500, and third prize is $100.