Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Everything About Writing Takes Forever

I don't know. Maybe there are people out there who managed to write their first draft in about three months, have it be miraculously wonderful, and sell it in about a month, but if they do exist they are few and far between.

Even those people who manage to have a lucrative writing career in their twenties usually started writing when they were about eight.

Harry Potter
Awesome illustration by karly nuñez

J.K. Rowling (mentioned because of the ridiculous amounts of money her books made) didn't have Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone published until she was almost 32, and that run was only for 500 copies.

As for me, I've written somewhere around six or seven books (I'd have to sit down and count them to know for sure). I started writing in grad school, which is really lamentably late to the scene. That was about six or seven years ago.

The seasons. Photos by (from top left, clockwise):

The current book (Dragon Bait), I've spent even more time on than usual. I started it around two years ago, edited it about three or four times, decided it was ready, was proven wrong. Then I paid for a critique by someone who really knows their stuff back in July. That was . . . discouraging but helpful.

winter snow
Photo by Jono Hey

It took a few weeks to determine to do it, but then I re-wrote the book in fairly quick order, finishing using the incentive of NaNoWriMo in November. I edited as I wrote, but, realistically, I knew the book still needed another going over.

I spent December reducing the book down from 71k to 63k. It took some pretty ruthless editing, but I like to think the pace is significantly improved. And, oh yeah, I finished it just this weekend!

spring robin
Photo by Barbara

After the euphoric high of (re-)finishing the book, I realized I still need other eyes on it to know what OTHER people think might be wrong with it (writing in a vacuum is a bad idea). Then I need to incorporate their suggestions. Then I need to revise my query letter and send it out to agents. And send it out again when that first letter doesn't work.

Let's say agents like the book. They'll take a while with my partial or full. A month or two. Tick, tick.

summer flowers
Photo by Rachel Kramer

If I do manage to sign with an agent, it'll be time for submissions to publishers. If I'm ridiculously lucky that will take a month. If I'm more normal, that will take a while, and then I might not actually manage to get the first book sold.

The lovely and talented anonymous writer, Authoress, of the well-known writing site has had an agent for a while, but dystopian science fiction (her genre of choice) is "out" right now, and she hasn't actually been able to sell any of her books to publishers, even with an agent.

It's a hard knock life out there.

autumn leaf
Photo by Grant MacDonald

Anyway, I'm just being a little doomy and gloomy (although, actually "realistic" might be a better word choice) about my chances these days. I've learned so much about the ins and outs of writing in the last few years, but, if I'm very lucky Dragon Bait will be my book that lands me an agent and a publishing contract. But, if not, I guess about two years from now I might have another polished book out on the streets.


  1. Woohoo! Congratulations on finishing this round of revisions! Even though, as you said, you're feeling doomy and gloomy, it's still a huge step.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement! I'm rather proud of it, but I feel like there's almost always this Post-revision Funk after you've been spending all your time on one project and then, all of a sudden, you don't have anything you really have to work on. You just have to be patient until you're really ready to query.