My first book took me five years. By the time I had gotten it published it had eaten a quarter of my life. I still can’t picture my life without writing. Some of my absolute favorite indie books (meaning they’re not mainstream) took ten or more years to find their publishing house. They’re the kind of books I’ve mutilated with dog ears, and sticky tabs, and then rather than lending them out to my friends I buy them copies for Christmas.
As a reader, you can tell when an author just blew through the making of a book just to add another to their list of publications. I’ve even seen best sellers do it. I’ll pick on one of my favorite series, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. The first book was amazing. I loved it! I lent it out to all of my friends and then my buddy and I, being the broke 20-somethings we were, started trading off buying the books in the series. I don’t think reading past the third book is worth it. I watched my favorite series slowly deteriorate into a pile of nothing-really-interesting-is-happening-but-hey-we-got-600-pages-of-it. When that happens in a series I love I blame a combination of pressure from fans, pressure from the publishing houses, and most of all, a lack of time to deliver.
I have one simple rule with writing: It needs to at least age overnight before I set it free to the public. Even these blog posts! Way back in Elementary school, our teacher Mrs. Felton, had us write short stories. One day, when we went to edit, I remember her saying “Now look at these stories with fresh eyes… My teacher always told us that. I always wondered, ‘What does it mean? You want me to get some visine?’” She blinked her eyes twice for dramatic affect to make us laugh. “No! No it does not! It means read your own story like you’ve never see your own story before!”
Of course a chorus of “Who wrote this pile of malarkey?” rang out from her students as they made fun of themselves.
To help myself see my own work with fresh eyes I let it sit at least overnight. If I didn’t sleep then it’s 24 hours!
As for novels, I personally cannot write one of those in an hour or two. I write the first draft by hand because notebooks are easy to carry, worthless if stolen, have no distractions, and are all around less cumbersome. After I finish one I spend some time in that odd in-between. No works in progress, and no editing. (It feels wrong!) The first round of editing is typing it up on a computer. Then over the course of a few months I edit it, and edit it, and edit it. My coffee table is the chest that holds various editions of my manuscripts. It kind of makes home home to a writer.
Once upon a time my career goals were one book, per year, until I die. Much to my displeasure it’s been three years since I published my first and last book. I’m still trying to find the right publisher! I’ve had a few offers but I didn’t take them. Instead of hitting the shelves my manuscript, Tales from the Gishlan Wood has found its way into the hands of a capable editor. I’m always excited to have someone with better English skills than I have to look over my work! By the time it’s finished going through the ringer I’m sure it will be the best version of itself it possibly can be!
So take some time to write your book! Enjoy making it! Edit it until you can’t stand it! Pass it around to your friends who would edit it for you in exchange for lunch! Don’t just throw it out there to say you threw it out there. Make sure your book is the best version of your book it possibly can be.