Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Time and Time Again

As this is my last post of 2014, I thought it appropriate to talk about the passage of time.

A lot of people use this part of the year to look back and see all that's gone on (or all that hasn't...), and make plans for next year.

Now, time management is great and all, but in the professional writing business, "time" is a varying concept. Let me explain using a very broad example of a timetable:

Writing of zero draft (this is the draft that just gets the story out - for your eyes only. No, not even your betas get to see this one): a few weeks to a few months (Stephen King recommends "a season" to write.)

Aging between zero draft and first draft revision: six weeks or so

First draft revision: a month or so, sometimes less depending on how cleanly you write

Beta readers: a few days to a few weeks depending on their availability

Revision based on their feedback: varies - let's say a month for shits and giggles

Time elapsed on Project - 7-8 months, give or take. Sometimes less, sometimes more.

For the purposes of this post, let's use 6 months as a baseline, just to make things easier.

So, let's say Project is all pretty and shiny and ready for querying after 6 months of work. (Hint: this is a stellar achievement. Finishing a novel is awesome in its own right, but to have it ready to query in 6 months? Go you! Fuckin' A!)

Now you follow the submission guidelines for each agent you're going to query. Some agents on your list might be closed to queries for whatever reason, so they get put on the back burner until they open again, so there's some waiting there on that. Others that are open have anywhere from a couple days to 3 month response times depending on various factors, so for the purposes of this post, let's go with the longest response time. (Note: This includes "no response means no interest" queries. The agents using a policy of NRNI ["no response, no interest"] usually give a time in their guidelines as to when you should hear back by if they're interested. Look for it.)

So, 6 months to write and polish (and again this is stellar - some authors write faster, some are slower. These are rough estimates, not absolute law. Chill.), and another 3 months wait for a response to your query. That's 3/4 of a year on a single project, right there. 9 months, people. That's enough time to gestate and give birth to a human infant.

Stop laughing - the comparison is apt. You're creating lives, here. Fictional ones, but lives nonetheless. There's a reason many in the writing game refer to their work as "their baby."

But I digress.

Back to the 9 months of Project. Keep in mind that 9 months on Project is barring any accident, illness, injury, or happenstance. This 9 months doesn't account for Life Happening or anything else. This is a bare-bones scenario.

So let's be generous and realistic and give you 3 months for Issues. Now you're up to a year in Project.

Now let us say the stars align, everything is shiny and happy, and Project lands you an agent! WHOO HOO! YEAH, BABY! That's what it's all about! That's what it's all been for! Now- wait, what? What's this? They have suggestions for changes? Oh. Okay. Add another month.

Awesome! They love the changes! Now it's off to sale! (Add another month or three or six, possibly longer, maybe never. But wait! There's more!)

Yay! Project sold! You have a book deal! Awes-wait? What's this?

Oh, would you look at that! A revision letter (or editing letter, or whatever else it might be called by you or your agent or house or whatever)! It's HOW many pages long? No problem. You can knock that out in a couple months if you work hard. Maybe less. What? It's needed back by WHEN? Oh, hell. You'll have to work harder and longer to meet that, but okay, it can happen.


Well, yeah! Commercial publishing is a slow business! "You rush a miracle, you get rotten miracles!"


Because. Because reasons. Because stuff you don't have to concern yourself with, but part of it is because there are other books out there besides yours and you have to wait your turn. That's right. More waiting. Things take time. Some things take more time than others, but there's never enough for all the things you want to do.

That book that won't be out for a year? Write another one so it will be ready while the other one is in the oven. (Shut up - I know that's another pregnancy metaphor. People all around me are spawning, all right? I may also be knitting things for small humans, so SHUT UP.)

The point here is, not only does the actual writing of Project take a lot of time, the sale and publication part takes even more. In addition to that, you're going to have to devote more time to Project than you ever thought you would. This is why it's said that you need to love the story you've written, because you're going to be writing it again, and again, and again, and yet again before it leaves your hands for good. Using the "baby" comparison from above, that thing has a lot of growing up to do before it's ready to go off into the big, scary world all alone. You're going to be spending a LOT of time with Project, so settle in. Get comfy. Put on your loungie pants and get a cup of tea. You and Project will be together for a long time. You'd better love that world you created, because you're going to be spending more time there than you think.

So take the time that you do have and do something with it. Like write. Don't just sit around waiting for something to happen, because if you do that, you'll always be waiting.

This concludes your Gothic Goddess Eviltry for 2014. The ELEW is going on our annual holiday hiatus for the year starting on the 22nd (there will be a post detailing this), but we'll be back next year with more evil!

Meanwhile, KEEP WRITING.

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