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a:Congrats on Finishing Your Quarantine Novel

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Hacks for Hacks: sense of humor required
* sense of humor required


Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.

Happy Quarantiniversary! Time flies, does it not? Now we’re one year into the pandemic, and many of you reading this have already been vaccinated. It’s time to celebrate not just the prospect of life returning to normal, but also your forthcoming literary success. When all this nonsense started, writers everywhere said, “This sucks, but at least I’ll have more time to write.” A whole year has gone by, and based on how much extra writing time you had, you must be putting the finishing touches on your novel, right? Right?! 

Let me remind you of my advice from a year ago:

They say Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the plague. This is not inspirational; this is the baseline. Shakespeare didn’t have wifi. With the tools you have at your disposal, and with the abject terror you have as motivation, you should expect nothing less of yourself than to create an artistic masterpiece that high school English students will write formulaic essays about for the next several hundred years.

And now that you’ve put in all that hard work for the last twelve months, you get to reap the rewards. It must feel good, after a year of wondering whether you will live or die, to know that you at least have an artistic triumph to show for it. I mean, how bad would you feel if you hadn’t finished your book? It’s a good thing you’ve used all of this extra time at home wisely! Had you not done that, why, that would be enough of a failure to cause a full-blown existential crisis! Ha ha!

Smith Corona Typewriter
photo by Matthew Dillon

Now that you’ve written your magnum opus, here are just a few of the wonderful things you can look forward to in the weeks and months ahead, all made possible by the fact that you finished your book:

Book your book tour to promote your book. Think of all the places you can go! With a book to promote, you’ll have an excuse (and the funding!) to visit all the places you’ve been dreaming about during those dull months spent inside the same four walls.

Spend your newfound riches. Once you sign your famous-author contract, you can use your proceeds to buy a new house, since you’ve come to loathe the apartment you’ve been stuck in all this time. Perhaps a new car, now that you can afford gas money again after losing your job during the economic downturn.

Speak at conventions. Go interact with flesh-and-blood human beings, all of whom think you’re interesting and attractive. 

Don’t those all sound terrific? I naturally saved the best for last:

Just relax. The last year has been hard on all of us, and in the United States, half a million people had it even worse. There’s no shame in taking some time off from writing to catch your breath and reflect on how lucky we are to be alive. If you do decide to give yourself a break, I unfortunately have no way of knowing whether you earned it by finishing your book, or if you’ve been too overwhelmed by encroaching disaster to write a single word. I think very highly of my readers, however, so if I see you taking time off to find some peace of mind, regardless of how much you’ve written, I’ll just go ahead and think of you as a success.

Share your amazing writing accomplishments (or lack thereof) in the comments!


About Bill Ferris

After college, Bill Ferris (he/him) left Nebraska for Florida to become a rich and famous rock star. Failing that, he picked up the pen to become a rich and famous novelist. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and looks forward to a life of poverty and ridicule.


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