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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Unbelievable! (10 Authors Whose Novels Took Over 5 Years to Write and Publish)

Do you feel as though you’ve been working on the same novel or story foooreeeverrr? Perhaps it’s time to move on. OR perhaps you should 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 and took 20 years to write Dragon’s Heart. Despite this, she has written over 200 books! On her website, Jane Yolen claims she works on more than one manuscript at a time and has unfinished manuscripts that’ll probably take even longer to complete. 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 and won the Pulitzer Prize.
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).
Sometimes a great novel takes a great amount of time put into it. That’s okay as long as you’re moving forward and making progress! 
Good luck and have fun with everything you’re writing this month, Zigzaggers!

32 comments:

Konstanz Silverbow said...

Very cool post! Karen Hoover (author of the Wolfchild saga) is the woman who got me started in writing. It took her Fourteen years from start to finish to get published!

Thanks for sharing this!

Konstanz Silverbow
nothoughts2small.blogspot.com
A to Z co-host
www.a-to-zchallenge.com

Rachna Chhabria said...

10 years is a long time, Laura. I thought the 2 years I took to write the MS which is on submission was a enormous amount of time. I have decided to take less time in future.

Cynthia said...

Thanks for sharing these examples- they are evidence that discipline and perseverance are such necessary factors for reaching a publishing goal.

Kyra Lennon said...

Thank you, this makes me feel a lot better! :D

Cristina said...

this makes me feel a little better. just a little :)

Julie Dao said...

I love this post! These are some of the authors I respect most :) How hardworking and diligent they must have been to keep at it for years on end. I guess when you really want something, it doesn't matter how much time it takes as long as you do everything you can to make it happen!

SA Larsenッ said...

This is fabulous research, and just goes to show that hard work does pay off. Thanks for sharing it. I'm tweeting this for you. ;D

Christina Lee said...

This list is totally cool! And wow the Crichton and Tolkien facts surprised me, except when you think of the world-building involved. WHOA!

Steph Sessa said...

Oh man, this definitely makes me feel better. I will take as long as I want!

Creepy Query Girl said...

inspiring list and yes, it does make us aspiring novelists feel better!:)

Julie said...

Very inspiring, thank you for sharing this list! I often feel like I am too old to be writing my first novel, so I was glad to be reminded of Ms. Santmyer!

Jaycee DeLorenzo said...

Took me 3 years to write the first draft of my novel, I put it aside for a couple of years, and have been working on it again for the last few years. It happens.

Dana said...

I feel better now. :)

Yahong Chi said...

Love it, Laura! Thanks so much for the inspiration! :)

jesstopper said...

Great post! This gives us "slow-pokes" hope! LOL It took me 5 years to write my first novel...

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I feel better already. :) (And I love LONESOME DOVE - one of my favorites.)

Beth Camp said...

Yes, thanks also for the inspiring background on writers who didn't give up or give in. I'm 1 year into my second novel in a three-novel series. Total time so far, three years but not counting! Write on!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

As much detail and world building as there is in the Lord of the Rings, 16 years does not surprise me.

Clarissa Draper said...

I always enjoy reading these. It makes me feel better.

Susanne Drazic said...

Wow, that is quite a list. Now I don't feel so bad about how long it is taking me to write a book.

Mel said...

Awesome and interesting post! I guess there is an end in sight ;)

J.L. Campbell said...

Hey, Laura, thanks for this. It reminds me that I'm not as slow as I think I am.

I encourage new writers to learn the craft as much as possible before aiming for a novel because it took me a few months to write my debut novel and then five years to get it to a stage where it was publishable. In the interim though, I continued writing other stories.

Kirsty said...

Needed this push today - life just zooms by so quickly that I can't see myself finishing for a while yet unless I win the lottery and can write full time.

Teresa Cypher said...

Wonderful post, Laura! I had no idea how long some of those novels took. It seems, good novels--like good wine, can't be rushed. :-)

Nicole said...

I definitely believe this! It takes a long time to do it right. One of my favorite authors (MM Kaye) spent more than a decade on her historical fiction masterpiece.

Trisha said...

Great post, and reassuring...but possibly dangerous as it might give us procrastinators more inspiration for slacking off. hehe

Carrie-Anne said...

I took a bit over 8.5 years to write my first Russian novel, over three major writing phases. Then I took almost a year on the edits and revisions when I pulled it out of hibernation a decade later.

Margo Berendsen said...

This is so encouraging! I was especially surprised about Lonesome dove and Jane Yolen's books. Time Traveler's Wife - if that book had been any less than 5 years, I would have been disgusted by such brilliance :-)

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I find this comforting! It means maybe there's hope... if I keep working and can be patient :)

Laura Marcella said...

Hello, everyone!!! This post just goes to show that as long as you keep moving forward and making progress, it doesn't matter how long your novel takes. Keep at it and you will publish it!

Thank you so much for all of your comments! Hello to the new Zigzaggers!!

Love,
Laura

Nate Wilson said...

If I recall, it took Junot Diaz ten years to write Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, too.

I'm always comforted by these stories, especially since I've been at work on my own novel for over five years now (and barely touched it in the past two... I plan to fix that once I get past Z). Never give up. Never surrender.

Laura Marcella said...

Nate- Hello and welcome to Wavy Lines!! Good luck with your novel. Keep at it! You can do it!! Maybe your name will be on an updated version of this list next year. :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting!!