Bert and Ernie and the 3 Day Novel Contest

My two advisers

My two advisers

I wasn’t completely surprised when my sister asked, “Do you want to go parasailing?” I was surprised when I answered, “Yes.”

But then again, Ernie made the decision.

There are two advisers living in my head. We’ll call them Bert and Ernie, mainly because naming voices in my head after lovable Muppets makes me sound a little more quirky and a little less schizophrenic.

Bert is the safe guy. Bert wants to be home every night by 5 p.m. Bert loves reading on the couch, enjoys eating a couple of cookies and heads to bed by eleven. Bert suggests healthy cuisine, taking vitamins, and being early. Bert is boring. Bert’s favorite word is “No.”

Ernie is the wild, spontaneous guy. Ernie is the go getter. Ernie is the one who pipes up occasionally and says, “Let’s go out drinking until 4 a.m.” or “Let’s see if that bar really is a brothel.” Or, “Fuck it. Let’s do this thing.”

Ernie’s favorite word is “Yes.”

I listen to Bert far more often. I am 39 years old, after all. I like vitamins, eating healthy (lettuce is just green cookie dough), and I like my quiet nights, reading on the couch. Moreover, a wild night of drinking means a three-day hangover and doing home liver biopsies.

But every once in a while, Ernie takes over. He just blurts out a “yes” and then Bert and I have no choice but to follow along. And thank (enter preferred deity here) that Ernie does this, because if he didn’t, my life would enjoy no fun or spontaneity. So Ernie said yes to parasailing and I had to go.

We were brought out into the Atlantic Ocean with seven others who’d listened to their Ernies. Then, a 20-year-old wearing a ZBT Jungle Party T-shirt harnessed us in pairs to a parachute attached to the back of the boat. Then the driver gunned it and we popped into the air while desperately trying to keep on a calm face because there’s nothing worse than being the urine-soaked coward in a stranger’s story. And then the boat drove around and we sailed behind it, 450 feet in the air, above the ocean.

The problem with Ernie is that he usually doesn’t think things through before saying “yes.” Therefore, there’s a moment of clarity when the reality of a situation is upon me. It’s the moment I realize exactly what Ernie has sold my ass into. It comes at 3 a.m. on the drinking Tuesday. It comes at the moment a harness is being slipped over my head. Or as heartburn settles into my chest.

And it comes now.

About six months ago, I read about a contest in Writer’s Digest: The 3 Day Novel Contest. It’s just what it sounds like. You have to start writing your novel at midnight, August 30th and you have to finish by midnight, September 2nd. Winner gets their book published.

This intrigued me for a number of reasons. First off, a book in a weekend sounded like a hell of a challenge. Second, if I could pull it off I’d have a book. In three days. Well, a first draft anyway. Then of course there was the prospect of winning.

But the best part was that it took place six months down the road. This meant that I had six months to think about it, talk about it, plan it, work out a writing schedule, and strategize without actually having to do it. So, Ernie said “yes,” the fee was paid, and I was registered before Bert had even finished his morning serenity exercises.

That was six months ago.

Six months later, enter the moment of clarity.

The contest starts in two days. Everything up until now has been theory. How best to schedule the writing, how to work with my Circadian rhythms for peak effectiveness, when to sleep, when to rest, what to eat, how to make it so I don’t have to leave my flat, what to do in my off hours.

I have stocked up on bread, ham, hummus, coffee, carrots, kitty litter, and toilet paper. I have planned three writing sessions each day which must produce eleven pages per session. So that’s thirty three pages per day for three days. The result should be about 100 pages.

It should work. In theory. But lots of things work in theory; it’s when theory becomes reality that crap hits the oscillating air current distribution device. The Atkins Diet works until your office has pizza day or a cake party. A morning jog works until you have to crawl away from your warm bed and Jennifer Garner pillow.

Again, enter the moment of clarity.

Once again, Ernie has gotten me into a pot of trouble. Instead of reading and scratching myself this weekend, I have to write a novel and scratch myself. A whole novel. I don’t even have the luxury of being pissed off at Ernie, as it’s going to take all three of us to get this book done. Maybe Ernie will talk us into fleeing to Mexico. Maybe he’ll have us blow off the contest for an Absinthe binge.

Who knows about Bert, the safe man. The comfort man. The “No” man. He might balk, might suggest that we have a quiet weekend of reflection and cookies. He might pretend we have a cold.

But maybe, just maybe, he’ll say, “Fuck it. Let’s do this thing.”

  1. #1 by greg galeone on August 28, 2014 - 3:55 pm

    Damo-Let me just thank you for not naming your Bert either Greg or Dad.

  2. #2 by Tiffany N. York on August 28, 2014 - 5:11 pm


    • #3 by Damien Galeone on August 28, 2014 - 9:34 pm

      Thank you! This is extra flattering coming from a successful hottie romance novelist who loves Halloween.

  3. #4 by PJ on August 29, 2014 - 2:11 pm

    Good luck in the contest! Also, you might want to clarify that you have a cat, otherwise, new readers might not understand the need for kitty litter during a marathon writing session.

    • #5 by Damien Galeone on August 29, 2014 - 7:19 pm

      Cat shmat! I just want to cut down on all that useless bathroom time! Thanks for the words of support, I’ll drink an inappropriate amount of booze with you next week and weep about it.

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