What Took You So Long? (I’ve been too scared to try)

“This means that the time from my novel’s conception to its appearance on store shelves adds up to a staggering 10 years. An entire decade,” she continues.  “Between, I graduated and spent a year on fellowship (during which I wrote a lot but only half of it was any good); then there were the teaching years (during which I wrote very little, hardly any of it good); then there were the Internet company years (during which I barely wrote at all).

“Stiltsville is in good company, which is reassuring. There are oodles of novels that took a decade or longer to write—including some famous examples, like Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Díaz spoke in interviews about his own decade of active non-accomplishment. He said that five years into the process, he decided to give up on the novel and start a graduate degree (in what, he didn’t say). He said his life improved: no more torture, no more fights with his fiance. Oh, Junot, I thought when I read this, I understand! Still, something pulled him back, and another five years passed, and then he was finally done.

“Then he won the Pulitzer, which isn’t going to happen to me. And I think I can speak for pretty much anyone who publishes a novel after 10 years: Whether you win awards doesn’t matter one bit. The hardest—and therefore the most rewarding—part was just finishing.

“Writing is hard—writers say this all the time, and I think probably only other writers believe it. But it’s not nearly as hard, in my experience, as not writing.

“Everyone knows that the line between succeeding and failing can be pretty thin. But the fact that it took me so long haunts me less and less these days, and I find myself looking forward instead of back. After all, as every writer is aware, the ending of a story does most of the heavy lifting. It can make or break the whole thing.”

Read Susanna Daniel’s story in full here.

Follow me on Twitter @RebeccaLacko

Browse the Best Books of 2010… so far.



Filed under Fiction Novel Writing, For the love of writing, Guest posts, Who is Writing What?

7 responses to “What Took You So Long? (I’ve been too scared to try)

  1. I’ve been plugging away at my book in between writing for other venues, as well. It IS hard to take that next step. Don’t try, don’t fail, right? That’s how the dream stays alive.

  2. I suppose you could look at it that way. I felt a little like a fraud by not doing the thing that matters most to me. So, now I do as much as I can toward the completion of my book, because I’d regret to have another year pass by (not to mention that scenes keep flooding my mind and so I’d better strike while the iron is hot!) On the flipside, the Census Bureau just reported that Americans over 100 are the fastest-growing population–that means there’s still plenty of time to procrastinate! Thanks for your comment. What is your book about?

    • Middle-grade novel — supposed to be funny, and geared toward boys. I’ve published short fiction before, but this is a different kind of beast 😉

      I’m with you — this is my year to get it out the door. Here’s hoping for both of us~

      • Cheers to that. Sounds like you have a terribly fun project on your hands! But, how do you find time to write now that your kids are out of school for the summer?

  3. I get up early and stay up late — not much writing gets done during the day. The dark circles under my eyes aren’t going anywhere for awhile~

    • More and more I’m discovering that passionate writing demands discipline… and forfeit of sleep 🙂 Many cheers to you! I look forward to hearing more about your progress…

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