adek...I believe the maximum length to meet the ATA/IDE standards is 18" although there are plenty at 24" and even 36".
I actually had a 24" when I set up my system and it wouldn't recognize my HDD, luckily I knew that it might be a problem before I used it. I know a few people that haven't had probs. at all using the longer ones, so I guess it's if your lucky or not
There is a chance of minimal data loss when using longer than 18" but I don't think it would be that big a deal with a CD-RW.
seems to me that if you insulate the cable u would have no problem, once i had this idea myself, but i was running it from one room to aother trough a wall (because my comp was soooo nosie) this didnt work that well however because of the power cords in the wall that ran very near.
Give it a try with a 36", burn a few cds if u dont get too many coasters u should be just fine