Friday, January 4, 2013

How Long Does It Take?

Anyone who writes (or admits to it to those who don't write) can expect to get the usual reactions.

            "Oh, I meant to do that one day."
            "I have a great story idea for you. Can I be on the title page?"
            "I suppose you write about the people you meet and make us look bad."
            "Is it hard?"
            "Does it take long to write a book?"
            "You don't count on making any money, do you?"
            "So, do you have a real job?"
            "Oh, you write? I don't like to read."
            "Do you know (give the name of the most famous writer of the moment)?"
            "Are you world famous?"
            "Have I ever heard of you?"

I have been faced with each of these questions (and more) in the last forty years. I usually need a moment to get past the absurdity of the question before I come up with something polite and non-committal; otherwise, I'm liable to say what I really think, and then I would be famous.

I started writing Last Call for Justice some years ago (I have to track down the original file to know when--so long ago that I can't seem to remember the year), and set it aside. I went back to it a number of times, reworking it to get it to be the story I wanted it to be. This is the sixth in the Mellingham series, but the first time I had written about Joe's family.

This is the story of Joe's family and a crime that lingered for decades, hanging over the family though each one managed to move on and apparently leave it behind. But in the end, people like to see things settled before they say goodbye. That was Joe's father's motivation in rounding up his children for one final reunion, one last chance to settle the truth of that old crime.

While I was working on this book I did get the question, How long does it take? That felt like a punch below the belt because this book was taking a long time, and not only because I kept taking breaks to write other things (the Anita Ray series, for one). In the Mellingham book I was exploring an entirely new world and a new dimension to Joe, and I wanted to get to know these characters.

So, to the woman who asked me, How long does it take? Here's my answer. It takes as long as it takes. And that's just fine.

You can find the sixth Joe Silva/Mellingham Mystery for Kindle (and Nook) at  Last Call for Justice.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Susan,

I've also been hit by every one of the questions and comments you've listed. Some of them I find irritating but my skin may be a bit thin I concede. Some people manage to write a novel in a few months. Others take a lifetime. It varies with the sensibility of the author. I've written and then rewritten my novels. As far as money goes, migrant workers earn better. But I never thought about it in monetary terms because writing is what I love to do, what I want to do, what I need to do.

sarah lee said...

Some questions about writing are funny because they don't know writing is not as easy as they think.
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