Doing It Over…and Over…and Over Again
“How long does it take to write a book?”
That’s one of the top five questions* I get asked when visiting middle schools. I like that question because it can be answered any number of ways.
My answer is always different, but it always starts with, “It depends…”
I wrote the first draft of Invisible, for example, in five weeks. Even to an eighth grader, that sounds fast.
But wait, there’s more! My first revision of Invisible took eight weeks. My second revision, a month. My editor then had some suggestions, and I took another month to revise it a third time. The final revision went quickly—just two or three weeks.
Total time from first keystroke to final manuscript? Six months of active work, spread out over about a year. That’s by far the fastest I’ve ever written a novel—and 80% of that time was spent on revising.
Eden West, the story of a boy who grows up on an isolated doomsday cult compound in Montana, took twelve years. During those years of on-and-off writing and revising the setting changed, the number and names of the characters changed, the voice of the main character changed, the ending changed, and the title changed. I made two extended visits to Montana, where the book is set. I read seemingly endless pages of Biblical apocrypha, Mormon texts, and other scripture. The first few chapters I wrote were revised so often and so drastically that they are unrecognizable. Several times I had to set the book aside for a few weeks or months and let my subconscious work on it. Often, I worked on other things and simply let Eden West have a little alone time without me.
Typing a new scene, researching, revising, and dreaming are all parts of writing. Many of my best ideas come while I’m revising.
There may be writers out there who can write a publishable first draft, but I don’t know any. If there are any, I hate them. But the vast majority of us would no more forgo revision than we would eat an uncooked potato, or wear a pair of jeans that hadn’t been stitched together, or live in a home with gaping holes in the roof.
So how long does it take to write a book?
P. S. The other four most asked questions are: 1)Where do you get your ideas?; 2) What is your favorite book?; 3) Are you going to write a sequel to (name of book they just read)?; 4) Will (name of book they just read) be made into a movie?
Pete Hautman’s newest book is Eden West published April 14th, 2015 by Candlewick Press.
About Eden West: Twelve square miles of paradise, surrounded by an eight-foot-high chain-link fence: this is Nodd, the land of the Grace. It is all seventeen-year-old Jacob knows. Beyond the fence lies the World, a wicked, terrible place, doomed to destruction. When the Archangel Zerachiel descends from Heaven, only the Grace will be spared the horrors of the Apocalypse. But something is rotten in paradise. A wolf invades Nodd, slaughtering the Grace’s sheep. A new boy arrives from outside, and his scorn and disdain threaten to tarnish Jacob’s contentment. Then, while patrolling the borders of Nodd, Jacob meets Lynna, a girl from the adjoining ranch, who tempts him to sample the forbidden Worldly pleasures that lie beyond the fence. Jacob’s faith, his devotion, and his grip on reality are tested as his feelings for Lynna blossom into something greater and the End Days grow ever closer. Eden West is the story of two worlds, two hearts, the power of faith, and the resilience of the human spirit.
About Pete Hautman: Pete Hautman is the author of many books for young adults and adults, including the National Book Award–winning Godless and the recent Klaatu Diskos trilogy. He splits his time between Wisconsin and Minnesota. You can learn more about him at petehautman.com.
Visit the other stops on the Eden West blog tour:
|Word Nerds||May 19||https://thewordnerds.wordpress.com/|
|Creatures ‘n’ Crooks||May 20||http://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/|
|My Book Views||May 21||http://my-book-views.blogspot.com/|
|The Children’s Book Review||May 22||http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/|
|My Mercurial Musings||May 26||http://www.mymercurialmusings.com/|
|The Roarbots||May 27||http://theroarbots.com/|
|Unleashing Readers||May 29||https://www.unleashingreaders.com/|
|Hudson Booksellers||June 1||http://www.hudsonbooksellers.com/|
Candlewick is kindly offering THREE copies of Eden West for giveaway!
Thank you to Pete Hautman for his guest post and Candlewick for having us be part of the Eden West blog tour!
**Thank you to Jamie at Candlewick Press for providing copies for review!**