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The time it takes to write a really good, publishable novel

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  • Jennifer
    I have had children, I have been a homemaker, as well as many other endeavors and jobs in my life. In every one, except writing, I am the antithesis of a
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 31, 2006
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      I have had children, I have been a homemaker, as well as many other
      endeavors and jobs in my life. In every one, except writing, I am
      the antithesis of a perfectionist. However, when it comes to
      writing, I never think, "I'm done."
      This has made for some long stints writing certain novels.
      Some of them have taken me years. Here's what I've learned about
      writing novels.
      · Anyone who says you can write a book in a month, or in 100
      days, or even six months, is nuts. Though you may be able to get a
      halfway decent first draft (if you're Maya Angelou, say) there is no
      way you'll get a perfected novel in a short amount of time unless
      you are a true savant, and they don't happen too often. (And on
      that note, it took Nathaniel Hawthorne twelve years to write The
      Scarlet Letter. Twelve years!)
      · Writing a book—your first draft-- is the first step in many
      steps. It isn't so much writing as it is REwriting that defines
      whether you are a writer or a hack. I don't mean to be blunt, but
      this is a delicate thing, writing, and you must approach it with
      tempered gusto, finesse, patience, courage, and more than anything,
      time.
      · Books take time to `age', like fine wine or expensive
      cheese. If you try to get your book to a publisher or agent before
      the book is ready, it will stink like cheap wine or lackluster
      cheese. Some of novel writing means taking time away from that
      project and letting it sit. You can use this free time to do lots
      of other fruitful and worthy projects, like clean your house, work
      your day job, say hello to your spouse and children, maybe even eat
      a meal with them—the list is endless. Even start another novel! But
      the time you spend away from your novel is as valuable, if not more
      so, than the time you spend poring over it AGAIN.
      · If you submit your novel before it's ready, all your hard
      work will be in vain. YOU ONLY HAVE ONE CRACK WITH A PARTICULAR
      AGENT OR PUBLISHER. So you don't want to blow it. You can take this
      particular point of knowledge to the bank. There are no second
      chances, so your one chance must be perfect.
      · I submit that the more eager you are to get your book in the
      hands of an agent or a publisher, the less chance you'll have to get
      it published. Books are labors of love, part of your heart and
      soul, and writing for writing's sake must be part of your process,
      or you will rush it, wreck it, and then you'll HAVE to stick to your
      day job. I've heard from numerous clients of late that they just
      can't wait to get their work `out there.' Boy, I remember the first
      time a publisher expressed interest in my first novel, Riding Magic.
      Sadly, I sent it too soon and so far, that book is still in need of
      another extensive rewrite, and obviously didn't generate the
      publishing contract I was seeking. I'll get to the rewrite. Right
      now it's percolating in my back burner computer files. I wish I'd
      waited and gotten it right the first time.
      · Remember, even if you have an agent, or a publisher has
      said, send me something, they have lots of other clients, and unless
      your work shines above the rest (and it won't if you send it too
      soon) you won't ever see your name in print, unless you self-
      publish, and that's not really what you want or you wouldn't be
      eager to submit it to a professional in the first place, right?
      · Finally, and this is a biggie—nobody, not your spouse, your
      writing partners, your professional editor, NOBODY cares about your
      book the way you do. You can pay someone to edit your work, which
      is a valuable and worthy and maybe even a required step in your
      novel's maturing, but unless you actually want someone to rewrite or
      ghostwrite your book, you will have to do the hard work of rewriting
      and rewriting again, because, as I've said, nobody really cares
      about your book the way you do. This is your baby, your passion,
      and a piece of your soul. The characters are part of your daily
      life, in one way or another, and nobody is going to have that kind
      of intimacy with your work the way you do. So, get ready to do the
      hard work of rewriting, no matter what other professional help you
      get.
      editorjenniferleigh@...
    • wings081
      Dear Jennifer That was an excellent bundle of advice for the novice and professional alike. The point you raised about your story being your own baby is so
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 1, 2006
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        Dear Jennifer
        That was an excellent bundle of advice for the novice and professional
        alike.
        The point you raised about your story being your own baby is so true.
        As I sit here in front of my E-machine, tapping away with two fingers,
        I can look to my right and see an old Amstrad word processor,alongside
        of which are boxes containing dozens of floppy disks loaded with some
        of my previous works.These disks are not compatible with my E-machine
        and to copy the work, I have to load it on the old Amstrad and then
        copy it verbatim on to this screen in Word.
        I know it would be easier to print it out on the old printer and then
        scan to my everyday screen but, wouldn't you know it, the old printer
        doesn't want to know and one computer expert has told me he would like
        it for a museum he was about to start near Bath in Somerset.

        I have resigned myself to believing what I wrote back then was most
        likely a load of rubbish no reputable agent or publisher would even
        waste time in sending a rejection slip.
        To be successful, a story or book must have universal appeal and will
        never reach the library shelves on the reccommendation of friends and
        family.

        I hope your words will be masticated and swallowed by everyone who
        believes their work is going to win accolades due to their personal
        belief in its excellence.

        As always


        Wings


        --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Jennifer" <jensdogshadow@...> wrote:
        >
        > I have had children, I have been a homemaker, as well as many other
        > endeavors and jobs in my life. In every one, except writing, I am
        > the antithesis of a perfectionist. However, when it comes to
        > writing, I never think, "I'm done."
        > This has made for some long stints writing certain novels.
        > Some of them have taken me years. Here's what I've learned about
        > writing novels.
        > · Anyone who says you can write a book in a month, or in 100
        > days, or even six months, is nuts. Though you may be able to get a
        > halfway decent first draft (if you're Maya Angelou, say) there is no
        > way you'll get a perfected novel in a short amount of time unless
        > you are a true savant, and they don't happen too often. (And on
        > that note, it took Nathaniel Hawthorne twelve years to write The
        > Scarlet Letter. Twelve years!)
        > · Writing a book—your first draft-- is the first step in many
        > steps. It isn't so much writing as it is REwriting that defines
        > whether you are a writer or a hack. I don't mean to be blunt, but
        > this is a delicate thing, writing, and you must approach it with
        > tempered gusto, finesse, patience, courage, and more than anything,
        > time.
        > · Books take time to `age', like fine wine or expensive
        > cheese. If you try to get your book to a publisher or agent before
        > the book is ready, it will stink like cheap wine or lackluster
        > cheese. Some of novel writing means taking time away from that
        > project and letting it sit. You can use this free time to do lots
        > of other fruitful and worthy projects, like clean your house, work
        > your day job, say hello to your spouse and children, maybe even eat
        > a meal with them—the list is endless. Even start another novel! But
        > the time you spend away from your novel is as valuable, if not more
        > so, than the time you spend poring over it AGAIN.
        > · If you submit your novel before it's ready, all your hard
        > work will be in vain. YOU ONLY HAVE ONE CRACK WITH A PARTICULAR
        > AGENT OR PUBLISHER. So you don't want to blow it. You can take this
        > particular point of knowledge to the bank. There are no second
        > chances, so your one chance must be perfect.
        > · I submit that the more eager you are to get your book in the
        > hands of an agent or a publisher, the less chance you'll have to get
        > it published. Books are labors of love, part of your heart and
        > soul, and writing for writing's sake must be part of your process,
        > or you will rush it, wreck it, and then you'll HAVE to stick to your
        > day job. I've heard from numerous clients of late that they just
        > can't wait to get their work `out there.' Boy, I remember the first
        > time a publisher expressed interest in my first novel, Riding Magic.
        > Sadly, I sent it too soon and so far, that book is still in need of
        > another extensive rewrite, and obviously didn't generate the
        > publishing contract I was seeking. I'll get to the rewrite. Right
        > now it's percolating in my back burner computer files. I wish I'd
        > waited and gotten it right the first time.
        > · Remember, even if you have an agent, or a publisher has
        > said, send me something, they have lots of other clients, and unless
        > your work shines above the rest (and it won't if you send it too
        > soon) you won't ever see your name in print, unless you self-
        > publish, and that's not really what you want or you wouldn't be
        > eager to submit it to a professional in the first place, right?
        > · Finally, and this is a biggie—nobody, not your spouse, your
        > writing partners, your professional editor, NOBODY cares about your
        > book the way you do. You can pay someone to edit your work, which
        > is a valuable and worthy and maybe even a required step in your
        > novel's maturing, but unless you actually want someone to rewrite or
        > ghostwrite your book, you will have to do the hard work of rewriting
        > and rewriting again, because, as I've said, nobody really cares
        > about your book the way you do. This is your baby, your passion,
        > and a piece of your soul. The characters are part of your daily
        > life, in one way or another, and nobody is going to have that kind
        > of intimacy with your work the way you do. So, get ready to do the
        > hard work of rewriting, no matter what other professional help you
        > get.
        > editorjenniferleigh@...
        >
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