Let’s write a novel in a month: The End—That Barton Fink Feeling

Posted by Rick Chillot

“I’m a writer, you monsters! I create for a living!”

Ah, if I only had a dime for every time I’ve screamed that, Barton Fink style, to a bunch of soldiers and sailors at a USO club and ended up getting my teeth knocked out. We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Because the sensation of finishing a writing project—let’s call it “that Barton Fink feeling”—is one of the few measly pleasures of the writing life. Which is why the Camp NaNoWriMo experience of writing a novel in one month is so…is there a word with a combined meaning of “agonizing” and “contains some surprisingly satisfying moments?”

Anyway, I went ahead and wrote a novel in one month, finishing on Wednesday despites significant obstacles like Blair abandoning the project, me spending my time making a chart about writing instead of actually writing, and my fellow Quirk colleagues being extra nice to me out of pity (I think). And it was worth it. Because I succeeded in meeting an arbitrary goal with no tangible reward, and now I have a messy pile of inconsistent characters, a meandering plot, multiple flashbacks with flashbacks inside them, the Mongolian death worm, way too much use of the word “retrieved,” and an abrupt ending that involves a power drill.

What will happen next? Something, I guess. Meanwhile, I wanted to share some writerly truths that I became reacquainted with these past few weeks. They’re axioms that have always helped keep me going when I’ve been tempted to stop writing and start living like a normal person.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Rick Chillot

Rick Chillot

RICK CHILLOT is a former baby and current writer and editor at Quirk Books. He has contributed to magazines such as Psychology Today, Parenting, Mental Floss, and Prevention. In his twenty-plus years in publishing he’s interviewed about a jillion scientists and doctors and therefore had no need to consult any of them for this book.