First-year student wins 72-hour writing contest

Eric Peterson, a freshman computer science and digital media studies major won DU’s first 72-hour writing contest sponsored by the University Writing Program.

“I was surprised,” says Peterson. “It was definitely a challenge. Writing is kind of a chore for me, whether creative, academic or for business.”

Peterson was one of six entrants, who began writing at midnight on Friday, Jan. 18, and stopped by midnight Monday, Jan. 21. The contestants had 72 hours to complete 20 to 50 pages of fiction.

The contest was the idea of Carol Samson, a Writing Program lecturer.

“A few years ago I learned of the “3-Day Novel Contest” which happens over the Labor Day weekend. In that contest, writers have 72 hours to produce a novel, and the winning novel is published,” Samson says. “I suggested that we try the same sort of contest.”

Samson says the six entries were varied, ranging from robot and computer science fiction to fantasy and from languid meditations to humor and tragedy.

Peterson’s piece, “Salt Water,” focuses on how disconnected people sometimes are.

“Let’s say you start on page 42, and some time later, you’re suddenly on page 45, and you don’t remember anything you read. Living’s no different. You could be 42 one day, and wake up 45 the next and not remember anything you did in between,” Peterson says.

Samson says the judges liked “Salt Water” because of its attention to language, which one judge found “textured and unpredictably rich at times.”

The contest is part of the Writing Program’s mission to give students opportunities for writing experiences outside the classroom.

Nate Knife, a first-year international studies major won second place for “Night Clerks.” Sophomore journalism major Kevin Bell won third place for “A Place Under the Stars.” The winners received $75, $50 and $25 respectively.

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