As he sat with the cursor blinking on the blank page with time ticking away, Jesse Frechette had three hours to put together his story.
“It’s challenging. You end up sitting there staring at the computer screen for 20 minutes,” said Frechette. “Once I found something to write I just kind of rolled.”
The associate of arts student at the Okanagan College Penticton campus ended up crafting a high-speed story of loss during the Okanagan College’s Three-Hour Short Story Contest on Nov. 1.
Frechette was helping his mother out at work when he received the email on Nov. 17 telling him he was the overall winner from all four Okanagan College campuses with his short story Lost Control.
“We (he and his mother) were pretty surprised. It was really exciting,” Frechette said. “There’s a lot of really talented people at the college, so it was definitely a surprise.”
Originally from Edmonton, Frechette is taking the associate of arts program with the hopes of going to film school. This is the first time he has ever entered a contest like this, and it wouldn’t have happened without the urging of his grandmother.
“She read about it in the paper and knew that it was my professor putting it on, so she certainly gave me a little push,” Frechette said.
Creating something original in a short period of time is no easy feat said Frechette.
“I knew to get something good done in a short period of time I sort of had to write about something I knew. I couldn’t pull it completely out of thin air,”
His story draws from personal experience including the loss of his father a year ago.
“I pulled from that a little bit. My first car was a ‘79 Camaro and I’m kind of a wrench turner, so I pulled from that as well,” Frechette said. “I knew I needed a nice hook because I was pressed for time and it seemed to work.”
Writers entered into the contest were given a secret phrase as the timer started. Top marks went to those who incorporated the phrase in meaningful and creative ways. This year, the phrase was soggy bread. Fortunately for Frechette, it turned out to be relatively easy to work in.
“It was kind of a relief. It was something that I felt I could easily fit in there. I was worried it was going to be an event or something a little more confining, but it was relatively easy to put it in there,” Frechette said.
Frechette recieved a $500 tuition credit as the winner at the Penticton Campus, as well as an extra $500 for being the overall winner. Frechette joins the ranks of campus winners Kyle Phillips in Salmon Arm for A Small Victory, Daniel Reich in Vernon for Time Moves Quickly and Sarina Bouvier, a high school entrant from Kelowna Secondary School, for Run-Run-Run.
You can find Frechette’s story along with the winners from each of the Okanagan College campuses at www.okanagan.bc.ca