I get asked that question a lot.
My standard answer is about nine months, or about the same amount of time it takes to make a baby. It’s a bit of a pat answer, but there is some truth to it. It does take, give or take, about that amount of time for me to get to a draft that reads like a real novel. Of course, that doesn’t take into account the various changes and edits that come into the process of polishing the book, first for submission and then later for publication.
I started my newly published novel, Blueberry Truth, about five years ago.
It began while I was noodling around with new ideas, something I often do. Noodling often ends with ideas that go nowhere, but sometimes a kind of magic happens. In the case of this book, a little girl named Blueberry began dictating a short story- “My mama named me Blueberry, because that what she like to eat when she have me, but my granny say ‘no baby be named Blueberry’ and she change my name to Truth.”
A bit later, the vivacious and wonderful Beanie came along to tell the rest of the story. And a book was born. It was written, at first, in multiple first person voices. A good story, but the narrative made for a choppy ride.
I put the book aside and worked on other projects, but the story kept pulling at me, along the advice of one agent who suggested I rewrite it entirely in Beanie’s voice. It took me awhile, but I finally figured the advice might be worth taking. I rewrote the book. I sent it to Etopia publishing. They liked it enough to offer me a contract. We went through a number edits, which took a few more months. And, last week, Blueberry Truth was out in the world.
So, from start to finish, Blueberry Truth took a lot longer than nine months. But I still like the “nine months” answer, though. Because having my book released did feel like giving birth. Blueberry Truth is my baby. Maybe I should pass out cigars.
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