“Madness at Fogelson” CWL’s 24 Hour Writing Marathon
On April 1, students arrived at 3 p.m. at the Fogelson Library for the Student Writers Association 24 Hour Writing Marathon, blankets, laptops and animal-themed onesies in tow. Armed with snacks, a cooler of energy drinks and the sheer will to write masterpieces, writers claimed their spots on the floor for what would be a crazed night of open mics, book raffles, writing prompts and overall literary madness.
Writers have tucked into beanbags and armchairs, laptops warm against their thighs as they type away. Morale is high at 3 p.m.. Laughter slips through the crowd of more than 30 attendees, the majority of which were Creative Writing and Literature majors. The high attendance of the event has everyone excited and ready to write. Students committed to the full night look forward to raffles and free dinner later in the night.
Murmurs of the season 3 premiere of “Rick and Morty” filter through the crowd. Some rush to Adult Swim’s website to watch. Others continue on writing. Productivity takes a dip as pizza arrives. Those who signed up dine, fortifying themselves for the rest of the night.
As night falls, students have already lost touch with reality. Is it snowing outside? Is it not snowing? Was it snowing earlier? The library is split by a political divide. We continue writing.
Creative Writing and Literature faculty James Reich and Julia Goldberg arrive at the library with snacks. Students gratefully graze on popcorn, granola bars, and Goldberg’s home baked cookies. Judy Ripley provides students with a color themed prompt to urge them further into the night of writing.
I have not rationed my caffeine well and slip under a blanket for a nap. The marathon goes on without me. As I slumber, students adopt movement to keep themselves awake. Digital Arts and Visual Development senior Brenda Lemieux leads her friends in a Vine video inspired dance across the library floor. Everyone awake giggles in disorientation.
“I need a cup, a pair of scissors, a spoon, and Swiss Miss,” SWA Vice President Kylie Yockey says before ripping a styrofoam cup in half. She pours out chocolate powder and eats it with a spoon. Students watch in reverence. We are all truly lost.
“OK, guys we have our next raffle,” SWA Student Life Liaison Madeleine Sardina announces. Someone in the back of the room grumbles, “Don’t say Raffles.” The room utters a tired laugh. As Sardina pulls names for the drawing, two out of the three students winners have fallen, curled up under blankets, their eyes shut. Maybe forever? We won’t know till morn. A cannon fires. Another student submits to sleep.
The students have started to slip into madness. CWL senior Chantelle Mitchell bellows Mary J. Blige songs, pumping her fist in the air. “Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, ooooh. /Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, ooooh.” It is her only defense against sleep in the early morning hour. Another student uses fear to keep herself awake. “I’ve just been reading CreepyPastas because it makes me not want to close my eyes,” CWL senior Felicia Mackey says, rubbing her tired eyes. Students left awake have gathered in the center of the room, taking solace in each other to make it through the night. A chorus of the “Fairly Odd Parents” theme song bursts into the air. CWL senior Salem Farrell is busy in the corner, using jumbo lego blocks to build a box around himself. He has separated from the group, taking shelter against the oncoming storm.
“Wait, Andrew’s awake?” Mitchell asks. SFUAD CWL alumnus Andrew Koss raises from what we had previously thought was a bean bag grave. His hair askew, the graduate giggles softly before rising for nourishment. A resurrection has occurred. A miracle.
Another open mic begins. SWA President Amaya Hoke stumbles blearily to the microphone to read an untitled piece. After her, Yockey takes the floor with a piece on water. “I’ve repeated a lot of this. This is why I shouldn’t write when I’m like this [tired].” Koss takes to the stage and looks over the crowd. “Oh my god. It’s like everyone’s dead,” he expresses in horror before reading his piece. After uttering a last sentence of prose, Koss falls back into his grave. We pray he will rise again.
Hour “The Morgue”
The fluorescent lights buzz above as the sun just barely hits the mountains. Aside from a few soul survivors, the rest of the troops are motionless. “A fly could have landed on one of your eyes and you wouldn’t have moved. It was creepy,” Farell says, one of the few writers who will survive all through the night.
Later, breakfast arrives. Dunkin Donuts pastries and breakfast tacos just barely bring the students to their feet at 6 a.m. The Keurig machine hums and pours out hot coffee and tea for those students ready to brave the sunlight. Laptops whirl to life again. Students yawn and pull up Word and Pages documents. We push on.
After a few hours sleep and the promise of Subway lunch in just a few hours, students are reluctantly up and about. Stalking Horse Press and Creative Writing and Literature faculty books are raffled off to participants, many of them signed. The last remnants of breakfast are slowly disappearing as late risers graze.
The end is in sight. Sentiments of “I’m going to sleep for a million years after this,” and “My mouth tastes like death,” are exchanged as the library begins to open at 2pm for regular hours. Those who did not participate in the event wander in, perplexed by the decrepit student body typing slothfully at their computers. “We’re almost at the finish line!” SWA Event Coordinator Brianna Neumann announces. An exhausted cheer filters through the crowd. Half raised fists are lifted into the air before falling with a satisfying plop.
The marathon ends. Sleeping bags and pillows are stuffed under arms. The library is slowly but surely returned to its original state. Students half walk half drag their tired bodies out of the building, tired smiles on a their faces and new work to thoroughly edit on their laptops. We have survived to write another day.
The Student Writer’s Association meets at 8 p.m. every Tuesday in the SWA lounge in Alexis Hall. For more information on club meetings and future events, email email@example.com or visit the SWA Facebook page.