And on the third day, he wrote a novel Amy Stupavsky

It's Labour Day Weekend. While most people are savouring the last days of summer, you're holed up in a country house with four friends, feverishly hammering away at a 60,000 word novel that you must complete in 72 hours. There are many words to describe this ambitious feat: brutal, crazy, masochistic. Mark Sedore, winner of the 32nd annual 3-Day Novel Contest, might use a different word: fruitful.

For Sedore, the victory represents the fulfillment of his meteoric career as a 3-Day Novelist. He entered for the first time two years ago and made the shortlist. Last year, he placed second. This year, the old adage about the third time being a charm proved true, when his novel received the top ranking among the 600 entries. As an extra boon to the title, Sedore’s book will be published.

“Obviously, I want to be a novelist,” he said. “Everyone wants to be a novelist. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do. It’s a very self-fulfilling profession. I always thought I’d publish something, but I never thought I’d win this contest. Out of 600 entrants, I was chosen. I’m one of only 32 people in history who has ever won this contest. That’s pretty cool.”

The international contest was conceived in a Vancouver pub in 1977 by a group of young writers as a cure for writer’s block. Sedore believes the contest is a great way for writers to test their limits and the fecundity of their imaginations.

“I’ve really strongly recommended it in the past,” he said. “If you take it seriously, it makes you focus and it develops a muscle or tool that you can use for the rest of the 362 writing days of the year. The realization that you can actually write 60,000 words in three days is a huge confidence builder.”

On January 5, Sedore received the call that he won, although the 3-Day Novel editors did not make a public announcement until January 26. “It was three straight weeks where I couldn’t tell anyone,” Sedore said.

Sedore’s winning entry, Snowmen, is a story of sibling rivalry at its most sinister. It chronicles a dying man’s struggle to traverse the Arctic Circle while his younger brother, consumed with jealousy and bitterness, attempts to thwart his progress. The plot is embellished with themes of love and loss, but according to Sedore, it’s mostly a meditation on loneliness. The book has gone through its first set of revisions by a professional editor to fix plot and character holes, and will pass two subsequent edits before it’s published.

Sedore, 31, works as a professional writer at the President’s Office. He completed his MA in Political Science at U of T and is currently pursuing a second in Communication and Culture through a joint program at York and Ryerson.

“I don’t see myself quitting my day job anytime soon,” he joked, despite his newfound success.

Sedore hopes his win will lend some clout to his next novelistic efforts.

“It’s a great thing to put on a cover letter,” he said. “I’ve submitted cover letters for novels in the past, and I’ve always received the typical rejection letters. If you already have some credentials, publishers will take notice. I think a lot of it is giving the writer the benefit of the doubt. ”

Sedore’s previous 3-Day Novel stints have involved staying at his Toronto home with his cats. As a departure this year, he went to a house in Perth, Ontario, with the members of his writing group. They all decided to take part in the contest.

“It was just a lot of fun to be sequestered up there,” he said. “We had strict rules never to disturb people while they’re writing. We kept a whiteboard in the common room where we could write messages to each other.”

At the close of the weekend, the group celebrated with a trip to the LCBO and a $65 bottle of champagne.

Drawing on his travels to Iceland and the Yukon, Sedore supplemented his inspiration for the novel with Oliver Sacks’s Musicophilia (Sedore’s protagonist is a music therapist) and surfing Wikipedia for information about Asperger syndrome for another character. The novel grew organically over the writing period.

“I knew I wanted it to be about two brothers and I wanted them to walk across the arctic,” said Sedore. “That’s all I knew.”

Sedore’s intensive writing experience also offered him the opportunity to experiment with stylistic techniques. All of the even-numbered chapters in his 24-chapter book are written in the present, while the odd chapters are written in the past as flashbacks.

“I think that really helped me to win because I think that most people wouldn’t try that,” he explained. “Once you start writing in the urgency of present tense, it’s hard to jump back to past, which can be quite boring. I thought the switch was quite effective. I’m glad it worked out that way.”

Sedore said he’ll probably choose to end his participation in the contest on a high note. He may enter unofficially this September, or as a team with his best friend, Doug, who is also a part of his writing coterie.

Snowmen is set to be released by 3-Day Books in August, 2010, and will be distributed by Arsenal Pulp Press.

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