A Book—How Long Does It Take?

DSC07192The other day someone asked when I’d last written a book. I quickly replied last year. But that’s not really accurate. Yes, I finished a book last year, but I worked on it for several years before declaring it completed. Even then, I only ever refer to it as a manuscript. (Not a book until it’s published.)  I have several manuscripts in various stages of completion, ones that go back many, many, many years. It’s the nature of writing, I think; the ability to simply pick up and start or stop or even change directions. I don’t wear blinders when I write. Sometimes my eye wonders. I see a potential story some place else and I quickly jot things down—a paragraph, a sentence, a page—for a later date.

I’m not an organized writer. And I have periods when I’m not nearly as productive as others. I get in slumps. I procrastinate and often wonder what’s stopping me from writing more. Exactly why do I procrastinate when writing is something I absolutely love doing, something that’s a part of me? I’ve asked myself that question a time or two. But then I remind myself that creativity isn’t something that can be rushed. It comes in its own good time, the same way a story idea or character suddenly arrives right out of the blue when I’m washing dishes or stirring pots.

I don’t produce outlines or write character sketches. I don’t decide what my characters likes or dislikes are before heading into a story. In fact, it’s more like they tell me. This is the place where some people start looking at me a little strange. Characters tell you things? They might even suggest an evaluation of sorts—just to make sure everything’s okay. They might even pat me on the head. But yes, with every book I’ve written, every short story, I feel a connection to a character who then leads me through their story. Occasionally I have a certain topic I want to write about, even then I have to wait for some character to show up and guide me through to the end.

I know one author who wrote a book in eighteen days. I’m still in awe of that feat although she told me she wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I’m willing to bet she didn’t get a whole lot of sleep during those eighteen days. While I’m not expecting to write a novel in anywhere near that time I’ve learned to never rule anything out because, really, who am I to say what will and won’t happen. I don’t like putting restriction on life. I like to stay open to any possibility. Who knows, a character might show up one day, a character so strong and insistent and impossible to ignore and I’ll be at their mercy to write, write, write. I’m sure this certain author didn’t decide she’d write a novel in a few weeks, it probably just happened. When you’re open to all possibilities anything is possible.

So, how long does it take to write a book? It takes as long as it takes—at least for me.

What kind of writer are you? Do you write with an outline or simply fly by the seat of your pants? How long does it take you to write a book?

I’m Keeping it to Myself

Pray for me people, quite possibly I’ve angered the Facebook Gods. I know, I know, this is serious business. I mean Facebook, right?

Secret messages have been turning up in my inbox— friends who have updated their status, uploaded photos, invited me to “like” pages. It’s a conspiracy of sorts, a cleverly devised plan to lure me back. I’ve been ignoring them all, closing my eyes and shutting it all out. Delete…delete…delete… I’ve been sending these Facebook messages into oblivion.

These days, I’m taking a bit of a Facation— a little break from Facebook if you will— because I sometimes find it a bit intruding. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook (kind of) and keeping up with my family and friends, but it’s far too easy to pop on for what you think will be a few minutes but ends up being much more. When that nosy factor kicks in I sometimes can’t help myself!

I was going to mention in a status update my intention to take a bit of a break but kept putting it off. I thought I’d let others know that I’d probably still update my author page but  they shouldn’t use Facebook as a way to contact me if something needed a timely reply. I thought it would be the polite thing to do, but I didn’t get around to it and so I didn’t start my intended break. Hey, I can procrastinate with the best of them!  But sometimes procrastination gives us time to reflect, a time to rethink our intentions. And low and behold, a few days ago someone’s status update had to do with this very same subject. Cool, right? Hmmm, maybe not.

To paraphrase the status it was something along this line: If you’re going to take a break from Facebook just do it. Don’t bother announcing it because no one really cares.

Oops! For a second I thought they had read my mind! But no, it was just my social media insecurities getting the best of me. Needless to say I didn’t bother to mention my intended break. Yet I couldn’t help wondering if people really do feel this way or if this was just one person’s opinion. I have often read status updates, especially from other authors, letting us know they were taking a break but I didn’t find it upsetting in the least. I actually thought it was a smart idea, not only the break but letting others know.

One of my beefs about Facebook lately, has been the sponsored ads that keep coming up into my news feed from people and companies I’ve never heard of.  Also the fact that some people really show a lack of caring. I don’t particularly like to read negative status updates. But they’re there. Disgruntled people with gripes galore. While I do understand that people are sometimes frustrated by life, and the behaviour of others, I don’t feel as though Facebook is the right forum to discuss that frustration. However, it’s their prerogative. Luckily, I have no one on my friends list who are downright belligerent. I might be forced to eliminate them from my list if that were the case. And no one likes to be eliminated. Anyway, I’m planning to make myself scarce from FB for the next little while, not being dramatic or anything, but I’d really like to spend more time blogging. Oh yeah, and writing. I am a writer, right? Two books and about forty + short stories says I am so who am I to argue? At least not today. Maybe I’ll keep that argument for another day!

Do you take breaks from social media from time to time? Do you agree with my FB friend that you should keep your intended break to yourself and simply disappear? Do you think it’s a matter of courtesy to let your friends and followers know that you’re not simply ignoring them?

Liars, Snails and Writers– We’ve Got a Thing Going on!

I’m a liar. There I’ve said it.

I bet some of you are too.

Let’s talk about it.

I tell myself lies all the time. Things like, I’ll just hop on the Internet for a quick second and check my email. Who knows, my editor might be trying to contact me in the worse way and I have to know right …this…minute. I mean, you know what editors can be like, expecting things to happen at the snap of their finger…And, and, if I don’t respond to her email immediately something catastrophic could take place. Like I don’t know…like maybe the earth will stop spinning on its axis, maybe the sun will forget to set or maybe, just maybe, the fate of the entire world rests on that “non-existing” email from my ever-so-impatient editor waiting for me in my inbox.

Here  lies another lie. It comes after I’ve written a few hundred words or so.

Got to get up and move around…gotta stretch those legs of mine. Things seize up. After fifty years of living, body parts begin to wear out you know. When I come to a tense part of my story, sometimes I just can’t sit still.

So yes, I’m a published author but that doesn’t mean I can’t come up with any number of excuses NOT to write. Writing takes discipline. No two ways around it. It’s just as difficult for me to find that discipline as it is for anyone else. Published or non-published, we writers all battle the same demons. Yes, I know, I’m published, there should be more of an incentive to keep me going then those of you who are struggling to break through, but my livelihood doesn’t depend on the money I make writing ergo I can procrastinate with the best of them.

Crummy attitude— my livelihood doesn’t depend upon the money I make writing ergo I can procrastinate. I mean really. Considering I’d quit my job in a heartbeat to stay home and write full time, I’d say that is a darn poor attitude.  So while I say one thing, I don’t do a single thing to back it up. It’s not an easy thing. It takes a leap of faith. Yes I would like to make a living writing, yet I continue to work because my job, while it may not be my first choice in life, is at least predictable. I know what my income will be.

The truth is, making a living with writing means you’d have to churn out far more novels a year than what I seem capable of doing. I know some people can. One writer on Facebook is spitting out words like fireworks. Her books are all over the internet and if I had half her energy I might stand a chance. She said she quit her business to write full time. So it’s possible.

Another writer told me it takes three or four published books a year in order for a writer to rake in enough money for the year. When I heard that I knew I wouldn’t be retiring anytime soon.

I’m a snail.

I’m a snail and a liar, and a little unsure of what my true objectives are when it comes to writing. We all assume every writer wants to make a living writing, but maybe that’s just not so. I’m sure some writers are happy just to see their stories in book form, something for them to look back on in their old age and feel they left their mark in the world. Their children and grandchildren will remember them with pride.

Now I wonder what spurs the writer onward– money or leaving behind a small legacy? I suppose that depends upon the writer. We are all individuals. Different goals, different points of view.

But what do I know? Could be I’m far off base. Snails are not known for their intellectual abilities.  😉

If you’re a writer what keeps you writing? Do you expect to one-day make a living writing? If so, do you have any specific plan in place?

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