How long did it take to write my novel?

Lots of people have asked how long it took to write my first book. I suppose that’s a common question posed to authors. I say it took all my life. Or, at least, it seems that way. I knew I wanted to be a writer in the fourth grade when my little essay on “What Patriotism Means to Me” won first place in my age division in a national contest.

Blog1_320_Contrast_IMG_3057I won $25, which seemed like a huge wad of cash to me at the time. I also got to appear on a morning show in Memphis, where I read my essay from the news desk in front of television cameras. I felt like a celebrity. I reckoned if I had reached such heights by the fourth grade, my star could only ascend as a grown-up when I became a famous novelist.

That child-like confidence faded a bit during my awkward teen years. I did become a writer, earning a degree in journalism and working much of my adult life as a reporter at small newspapers.

But, the dream of writing my own stories and not just reporting other people’s stories never completely left me. And I have two really awful manuscripts stuffed in a drawer somewhere to prove it.

Third time was the charm. We moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for my husband’s work. I didn’t find a job, so I started writing the murder mystery that eventually got me an agent and a publisher.

So, how long did it take to write that first book? It took a little more than four years – plus my whole life up to that point.

(NOTE: My publisher has different ideas about how long it takes to write a novel. I know exactly how long it will take to complete my second book, since I’m contractually obligated to turn it in by the end of October!)

6 Replies to “How long did it take to write my novel?”

  1. Love your observation that the writing took about 4 years plus your whole life! A favorite artist Charles Gruppe used to say a painting took him 2 hour at the scene plus the 70 years he’d held a brush in his hands. I’ve mangled it, but I’ve never forgotten the big picture.

    Awesome website, Vicky! –kate

    1. Thanks, Kate! (Sorry for the tardy replay, I’m still at the bottom of the learning curve with this website thing.) What a beautiful image of an artist’s work!

  2. It has taken my whole life also. I wrote my first story in 3rd grade,The Centipede With Sore Feet. I am in the process of writing down all of the stories I made up for my girls. I’m torn about publishing them. I don’t want to take away any childhood feelings they had of them. I am excited for you! I hope to buy your book as soon as it is out.

    1. The Centipede With Sore Feet — what a great title! I think you should talk to your girls before dismissing the idea of publishing. They might love the idea!

  3. Great book cover, Vickie! …I know what you mean about the time it takes to write Book 1. For me, Book 1 probably took a couple years–plus my whole life before that as well. And now, with set deadlines, the next books will certainly happen faster. Best wishes!

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