Saturday, March 7, 2009

How Long Does It Take To Write a Novel?

I’m the author of four novels. My first effort a female friendship novel called Bet Your Bottom Dollar went through several incarnations. (It used to be called Who’s Your Daddy, and was first set in a beauty parlor instead of a dollar store.)

I did so many rewrites on that novel, first for my agent and then for my editor, that by the time I finally finished, the sight of it turned my stomach. To this day I can’t bear to crack it open.

When it was finished but I thought, “It’ll never be that hard again.”

Writing the next two books was like sliding down a greased pole. They went so fast I barely remember writing them. Neither my editor or agent marked them up with their blue pens; they went straight to the copywriter.

I turned into a cocky little so-so. Thought I’d licked novel writing. Figured I could turn out a couple a year with my hands tied behind my back. I was Super Scribe!

Next I had an idea for a novel set in Heaven. Sat down to write. Figured it would take me six months max…. Two years later I was still writing. Ten drafts later, still at it. WOULD I EVER FINISH?

I did. But I didn’t feel like Super Scribe anymore.

Looking back, I figured out what happened. My second and third book were part of a series. I already knew the characters and the town they lived in.
But with the Heaven book I had to make up a whole new Universe. My heaven in Earthly
was a wee bit different from the one in the Bible. God was female and sounded like Bette Midler. Heaven was like Gatlinburg TN with Wrath of God miniature golf and Noah’s Ark River Cruises.

And the characters. I had to deal with a set on Earth and a set on Heaven. They took me on so many twists and turns it’s a wonder the book didn’t take five years to write.

After Earthly Pleasures, I decided to write another female friendship book.

In January 2007, I started GRANNY PANTY CHRONICLES, about an eighties girl band called the Bikini Panties. Twenty years later the women reinvent themselves as a middle-aged band called the Granny Panties.

Piece of cake. I’d done friendship novels before. I knew the middle-age territory all too well. Figured I could whip it out in six months or less.

Over two years later, I’m still working on it. I hope to be done in a month or so, but who knows? I’ve already undergone at least three major revisions and all those times I honestly thought I was finished.

The book has kicked my butt, but I hope, in the end it’ll be worth it. It just goes to show that we sit down and write a novel, we never know where it’ll take us and how long that journey will be. It reminds me of that saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

Lit Links

Check out the nominees for 2009 SIBA Book Awards. Congratulations to our very own bloggers Kerry Madden, Karen Spears Zacharias, Shellie Tomlinson, and Kathryn Wall.

Agents are always giving writers dos and don’ts. One blogger turns the tables.

Below is a TED lecture on creativity from the Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

Karin Gillespie is the founder of this blog. Look for her posts most every weekend.


Keetha said...

I love that video - I've seen it several places and each time I watch it I get something out of it.

Already looking forward to this new novel of yours. :-)

Karin Gillespie said...

Thanks, Keetha. TED has a bunch of similar videos I want to get around to watching.