Where does all this come from and why does it take so long?

I got a question from one of you, and I thought I’d share the answer.

The question was why does it take so long to produce a book. If he was a writer, he’d spend every minute of every day writing.

I rarely spend more than four or five hours a day at the computer writing. My body can’t really take much more of it. I know writers who have had to crash for a month or more after meeting a tight deadline and writing madly for a week. Some of the problems they developed that week never really went away. The back and wrists can only take so much work.

Besides, there are other things a writer needs to do with his time. There’s answering fan mail and keeping up with the changes in the publishing industry, and there are a lot of them of late. In my case, I’ve got a couple of grand kids living with me; both are in High School, and guess who gets to see that their homework is done and help them with that (History/Science/English project) that they forgot and is due real soon.

There’s also the things you have to do beside putting new words into the story. I’m working this week on doing the second edit for Kris Longknife – Fearless. Last weekend I was in the middle of a five day rush to review ACE’s copy edits on Vicky Peterwald – Rebel. A couple of weeks ago, I had to drop my push to finish Fearless to review the Galley Proofs of Kris Longknife – Unrelenting. Oh, and somewhere in there I reviewed cover copy for Rebel and looked at the cover for Rebel and had to ask them to correct Vicky’s uniform.

When I started writing, a thousand words a week was a big goal. Now, I aim for 3 to 4000 a day maybe 25,000 a month. It takes time to work up to that kind of production. I wrote one book a year when I had my day job. Strange, I could only write one book, maybe one and a half a year after I quit my day job.

It also takes time to come up with ideas, both for the book and for the latest mess I’ve gotten Kris into. The brilliant idea that Kris comes up with in a snap may take me a week or more of mulling over to hit upon. I really wish I was as smart as Kris, but I’m only human.

I’ve just finished the 14th Kris book and until a week ago, I really had no idea what problem would come next for Kris. The biggest challenge is to write the same book, but different. The same is easy. Getting that bit of difference into it is the hard part. By the way, I won’t start writing the 15th Kris book until November. Hopefully, I’ll have a lot more ideas for that book than the two that I’m hanging everything on now.

The fan wanted to know if I knew a certain major author and tell him to write two books a year in the series he likes. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever met that major author. There are a lot of Cons that fans go to, but it takes a lot out of a writer to go to a Con. I usually lose the week before and at least a week after, maybe two, getting back up to speed. When you’re a new writer, going to cons and meeting writers is a major energizer. After you’ve gone to a hundred or more, you kind of realize you’ve answered most questions a dozen times or more and the shiny has worn off.

I hope this glimpse into what’s behind the curtain was worthwhile.

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