There's no end
to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go! {Dr. Seuss}

Friday, November 19, 2010

10 Authors Whose Novels Took Over 5 Years to Write and Publish (Updated Post)

Are you, like yours truly and thousands of others, participating in NaNoWriMo right now? Are you thinking these thirty days are taking foooreeeverrr? Consider this:

Margaret Mitchell wrote and published Gone with the Wind in 10 years.
Audrey Niffenegger began writing The Time Traveler’s Wife in 1997. She finished in 2001, but it took another two years of searching for an agent and publisher before the finished product was in her hands. From idea to publication: 7 years.  
Helen Hooven Santmyer spent nearly 10 years writing ...And Ladies of the Club, which was published when she was 88 years old!
Anna Lee Waldo spent 10 years researching and writing Sacajawea.
Pat O’Shea spent 13 years writing her first novel, The Hounds of the Mórrígan.
Jane Yolen took 19 years to write Stone Silenus. It took her 20 years to write Dragon’s Heart. Despite this, she has written over 200 books! She works on more than one manuscript at a time. On her website, Jane Yolen claims she has unfinished manuscripts that’ll probably take even longer to complete than the two mentioned above. Yeesh. She is one patient writer! 
Michael Crichton spent 8 years researching and writing Jurassic Park. And it took him 20 years to write and publish Sphere. He liked “cooking” ideas in his head before he began writing.
Alistair Macleod took 10 years to write and publish his first collection of short stories, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood, and another 10 years to write his second collection, As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories. Then he wrote his first novel, No Great Mischief, in 13 years. 
Larry McMurtry began developing an epic western tale for a feature film in 1972. When that project fell through, he decided to write the screenplay as a novel instead. Lonesome Dove was published 13 years later. 
After The Hobbit was published, J.R.R. Tolkien spent nearly 16 years working on the sequel. He began writing parts of The Lord of the Rings in 1936 and spent over 10 years writing just the primary narrative and appendices. He finished the novel in 1952, and it was published in three volumes: The Fellowship of the Ring (July 1954), The Two Towers (December 1954), and The Return of the King (October 1955).
Perhaps busting our writerly butts for a first draft in only thirty days isn’t so bad after all! ;) We're more than halfway through!!!
Happy weekend and happy writing! What are your writing plans this weekend? Any fun non-writing plans?

See the original posts here and here.


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Now I feel a little better. :D

And yay, I recognized three of the authors.

Julie said...

Always good to have some perspective. Thanks! :)

Summer Ross said...

writing plans- I actually got some poetry done, and tonight I will be reading a few of them at Open Mic night at the local coffee house.

This was great facts I didn't know before. thanks!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I really feel like I lack in the research department now!

Bluestocking said...

I think this is so reassuring to hear. We're always scribbling away and get impatient when things don't move as quickly as we think they *should* -- but really if something is worth doing well, it's worth the time it takes to do so. Even if it's (gulp) five years or more...

Matthew Rush said...

Oh man, great post. I knew about some of these, but not all. So encouraging ...

Isabelle said...

Très intéressant, comme toujours! C'est vrai que c'est encourageant de voir que des grands écrivains ont mis autant de temps pour produirent leurs œuvres!

Bon week-end et bon Nano:-)

Trisha Leaver said...

Just the bit of realistic encouragement I needed. Can't thank you enough!


Laura Marcella said...

Stina- I'm glad you like the post! I've read all of these authors and they're terrific. Let me know if you want any book suggestions!

Julie- You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great weekend!

Summer- Ooo, have fun at Open Mic night! You're so brave!!! Public speaking is scary for me especially when I'm reading my own work!

L.Diane- Haha, don't feel that way! A lot of the research I do for these posts is mostly checking my facts. I know a lot of random tidbits about authors and novels. You know, useless information that won't get me anywhere in life but it's nice to share with my blog buddies, lolol!

Bluestocking- I agree. It's not the end of the world if our novels take several years. All of these novels mentioned went on to be bestsellers (and some still are today!), so it certainly is worth it to take your time and make sure your novel is as perfect as it can be!

Matthew- You're welcome! I'm glad you like the post. It's reassuring to know these great authors labor away at their novels just like we do!

Isabelle- I agree! It's very encouraging to know these great authors labor away at their novels just like we do!

Trisha- You're very welcome! I'm glad you like the post! Have a wonderful weekend!

Emy Shin said...

These are great reminders that you don't have to race when it comes to writing. :)

kimberlyloomis said...

I had not idea about Crichton. Not surprised about Tolkien, but that's still very interesting, imo. Good luck on NaNo! My current wip won't take ten years (I don't think), but it looks like the rough draft is going to take me close to the year mark. Not much can be done for it other than to remind myself that the editing process isn't going to be completely brutal. I hope. ;-)

Have fun and stretch often!

DL Hammons said...

Hey...maybe I can set a new record and end up on somebody else's list 30 years from now. :)

Laura Marcella said...

Emy- You're right! The most important thing is to write the story how it wants to be written no matter how long it takes.

Kimberly- A year for the first draft is pretty common! I sure hope none of my novels ever take that long...but considering how successful and popular this list of writers became, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing!

DL- LOL, I'm sure when you make a list, it'll be for something much more awesome!

Naomi Ruth said...

This gives me hope for a novel I've been working on for... Oh wow. Almost five years 0_o ... I love reading facts like this. So interesting.

Laura Marcella said...

Naomi- You see! Five years is nothing compared to some of these authors who spend 20 years on a novel! You'll finish your novel for sure. :)

Candyland said...

I def. feel better about my dawdling now! Thanks!

Laura Marcella said...

Candyland- You're welcome!!! This list makes me feel better too, haha!

Terri Tiffany said...

I needed to read this today! Thanks! Guess I can take a year or so on this book.

Laura Marcella said...

Terri- You're welcome! Reading about authors who are just like us always give me a motivational boost! And yes, I think a year is excellent. :)

Cold As Heaven said...

Very encouraging. I've been working on my so-called novel for less than a year. So there is hope >:)

Cold As Heaven