How To: Write a Book in Just Under 20 Years

A Difficult Mirror

On September 23, 2013, A Difficult Mirror will be released for your consumption (and, hopefully, joy). That the novel took a while to write is no secret. Those who have followed this blog or otherwise read things I posted here or there know that A Difficult Mirror has been around for a long time.

It even had a different name for nearly 10 of those years. (That’s a contest entry for later, though.)

So, how do you end up taking nearly 20 years to write a novel when your last novel only took a year?

That’s not really an easy question to answer without getting into things that are entirely too personal, but I’ll give you some background into the process. (By the way, I don’t recommend trying this at home.)

Step 1: Find yourself in a hooch in central Honduras without phones, the Internet or television that isn’t in Spanish.

Step 2: Get yourself a journal. Not a fancy journal, either, just one you could have picked up in the stationary section in Walmart. (In fact, I think that’s where that journal came from the day before I left for Honduras…back in 1994.)

Step 3: Write something. Anything. Your thoughts, your dreams, what you had for dinner. Or write a chapter in a novel you’ve been thinking about but haven’t outlined past the first three or so chapters. Scribble, scratch and erase whatever sounds stupid.

Step 4: Return to the real world with the aforementioned journal and stuff it in a drawer. Welcome the Internet with open arms. Explore life for a year or two and have “experiences.”

Step 5: Dig that journal out of the drawer you put it in and type up what you’ve written. Add another chapter and a few more characters. Write things that may or may not be in the final version of the book. Know, for a fact, that what you’ve written is good, but may not be good enough to share.

Step 6: Get cocky. I don’t mean slightly cocky, but really cocky. Build a website that will house the novel as you write it. Invite people you know (and those you don’t know) to add their thoughts or make corrections for you. (This was in 2002, I think. I actually had a website where people could register and read a chapter at a time as I wrote it. It didn’t last very long, but it is interesting to think back on that and know it was years before this became commonplace.)

Step 7: Write frantically while drinking vodka. Do this for about six months. Realize as you read back on what you’ve written in your less sober state that you really shouldn’t write anything while drinking vodka.

Step 8: Keep at it. Raise some kids. Move around to many different places. Have some adventures…or “experiences.”

Step 9: Finish the first draft after only–only–12 years.

Step 10: Write query letters. Read rejection letters. Send it off to a few agents who sounded interested but never respond.

Step 11: Become despondent. Return to the bottle of vodka you once gave up, but transform that bottle into rum…and then whiskey.

Step 12: Move again. Stop drinking. Write other stuff. Sell other stuff. Fiddle with the novel you once thought was good. Delete a few passages. Add a few others. Rearrange the chapters. Erase entire characters.

Step 13: Repeat Step 12.

Step 14: After 19 years, look at that novel again with a fresh perspective. Modernize some passages. Edit it. Send it off to editors for them to bleed all over it. Keep doing this until it’s ready.

Step 15: Let the world have at it.

You see, it’s really not that hard if you try to stretch your creativity to that kind of limit. However, if you follow this pattern, you may only have 2 or 3 novels written and published before you pass on.

All of that said, get ready to read A Difficult Mirror. I know you’ll love it.

And don’t forget the giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Difficult Mirror by Benjamin X. Wretlind

A Difficult Mirror

by Benjamin X. Wretlind

Giveaway ends September 23, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


5 comments on “How To: Write a Book in Just Under 20 Years

  1. I’ve entered to win. Thanks, if I win. 🙂

    Your story sounds similar to mine. When I was 16 I started writing what would be “Shadows in the Stone”. I wrote the first book, then the second book before I was 20. I put it in a drawer and got serious with work. At 30, I had my first kid. Bored out of my skull as a stay-home mum, I hauled it out and started rewriting it and continued to do so for about six years and two more kids. I sent it out, got rejected and decided to self-publish. That was in 2012. Mmm, that means it took me 28 years. Yikes! Funny, it only took me 10 months to write book two, but it’s taking me more than a year to edit it.

    Thanks for sharing. It’s good to know there are other ‘slow’ writers out there.

  2. Pingback: New Release! A Difficult Mirror by Benjamin Wretlind | The Hermit in the Woods

  3. Pingback: New Release! A DIFFICULT MIRROR by Benjamin X. Wretlind | Bruce Blake

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