Monday, October 14, 2013

Fini

I wrote my first mystery, Fools Rush In, in nine months. To celebrate finishing the book I bought a modestly priced bottle of champagne to toast my accomplishment with my family. That was 1998. The bottle is still in my refrigerator. For whatever reason, my family saw nothing to celebrate.

Where Angels Fear took five years to finish. I carried the manuscript to the hospital every day while my mother was dying. I put it away out of guilt and took care of my father until he passed away. There are more important things in life than finishing a book.

Last week I put the final touches on A Snitch In Time. It took a decade to write. During that time frame I retired, moved three times, was poisoned and nearly died, lost one kidney and got on the transplant list. I also worked as an acquisitions editor, lectured, learned about the industry and marketing, blogged and networked. I know it wasn't time wasted but I feel like a slacker.

Writing books should become easier, not harder--right? Theoretically, they should take less time to pen and, with experience, better crafted. There was no writers' block involved, no lack of faith in the storyline. My fans have been patient but they'll probably have to read the first two books all over again to refresh their memories. I have to do one more edit to make sure everything tracks before handing it over to my publisher.

Every book has a different story behind it. The first novel was written in a critique group. I was competitive and eager to be read so I handed in a new chapter every week. Lots of feedback, lots of encouragement. It was also based on a real case I worked as a secretary with a narcotics team. The investigation unfolded as I was writing the book.

The second in the series was loosely based on a case I handed over to the vice squad. Half of the book was heard by the critique group but I dropped out before I finished it. Only a few close writers whose judgment I trusted got to read the full manuscript.

But this book—nobody has read this book. And that's scary. I haven't had any feedback and sometimes wonder what I'm holding in my hands. It's like flying on a trapeze with no safety net. I trust my talent to tell a story, but I've been out of law enforcement for ten years and this time I'm working solely from my imagination.

My point is, no two books are written under the same circumstances, no two writers are alike. I get irritated when interviewers want to know what my “routine” is. There is no routine to my routine, it changes every day. Writers are not wind-up dolls placed in front of their computers, fingers automatically plucking out words. Our minds get fuzzy with age, our energy lags, life makes demands. While living inside our imagination is a wonderful experience, it can be limiting. There's a very real world out there that needs our attention as well.


However, last week I wrote “The End” and called a few friends, demanding them to take me to dinner to celebrate. I've learned not to wait for kudos or someone to pop the champagne cork. This is my celebration of another milestone in my career and my life. Party on!             

29 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Good idea not to wait for people to notice such things. They won't. Congrats on finishing another.

John Brantingham said...

Congratulations Sunny. You should know that you have 100s of fans down in LA waiting for it to come out!

John Brantingham said...

Congratulations Sunny. You should know that you have 100s of fans down in LA waiting for it to come out!

marja said...

Congratulations, Sunny! Can't wait to read it.

I agree with everything you had to say and can relate to a lot of it. Sometimes life just gets in the way, but that's not always a bad thing. Great post!
Marja McGraw

Julie Luek said...

I know some writers who thrive on routines- it's their lifeline to writing. Others, like you, have to make it work around life. And love does rain down sometimes. Congratulations and thanks for reminding all of us, that we don't always control the time table, but we can always persevere.

Amy Reade said...

Hi, Sunny,

Congratulations on A Snitch in Time! Enjoy your dinner.

My first book took a long, long time. When I finished it, I said there would be no celebrating until I found a publisher...next time I'll celebrate as soon as I'm done! My first book found a publisher, by the way, and my family and I finally got to celebrate with champagne.

Hope all is well with you.

Amy

Sunny Frazier said...

Writers know what it takes and so, when my peers high-five me, it means a lot. Cyber champagne for all of you!

Holli said...

Sunny, as you know already, you and I are most definitely kindred spirits. I have no routine, in life or in writing, and my novels take as long to write as they take to write, end of story.

Writing a book is like having a baby--it really doesn't get any easier, but by the second one you know the trouble and pain were worth it. It's also a lot less messy, although I do curse the same amount during both processes.

Holli Castillo

Palmaltas said...

I just "finished" my first novel. It took me 30 years! In the past 10 years I have published 13 novels (one was a ghostwriting gig) and two were prequels to the first one. For some of us, there is no rhyme or reason as to how or why we do what we do it. The important thing is that we do it.
Congrats, Sunny, on A Snitch in Time!

Cora said...

Since knowing you from that first novel writing adventure, I have to say you have mellowed. Life happens, and the book, as important as it is to us personally, has to take second place to the people in our lives who we need to nurture and cherish. People first, things second.

I wish you the best of luck on your new novel. I'm sure it will be the best one-I have no doubt about that.

Susan Whitfield said...

Sunny, it's true that we experience different emotions and Life gets in the way and sometimes takes out books in an entirely different direction. You have been through so much, strong woman, and you've felt so many emotions since the first two books. I read both of them and they were great. I feel safe in saying that the new book will be even better because you've stopped and taken care of those who needed you, been through much pain, and kept it together, never giving up. I'm proud to know you and count you among my friends. I'm buying a copy as soon as it releases!

Susan Whitfield
www.susanwhitfieldonline.com

Lou Allin said...

Sunny, congratulations! You have many more great books inside that 24-7 busy brain of yours. Kudos to you for a juggling act second to none. I love the baby metaphor even though I've never had one. See you on the west coast, Pistachio Queen.

timdesmondblog said...

Yes, you did get personal. The time it takes to get a work done struck me here. usually my average is 5 years, but am trying to get it down to one year. Too, as you mention "life" gets in the way. I too had day job until 2011, family deaths, and other stuff. I found that getting up at 4:00 AM did wonders for getting writing on paper [into file om machine]. Editing anytime. Latest work in progress is about a frutrated high school physics teacher who can NOT get his paper published on a theory he has. The theory is explained, but it is not a Breaking Bad type of story. My characters do not manufacture meth or any other trendy cancer on society. A 2nd plot is his problems with the profession and teaching problems. But, then again maybe the eduaction is a trendy cancer on society. Hhhhhmmmm.

Melodie Campbell said...

So true. I found myself nodding along to this, thinking, why doesn't it get easier? I'm writing books seven and eight now, and if anything, the demands I put on myself require I spend *more* time researching, and *more* time perfecting.
As always, Sunny, a good use of my time, reading your posts.

Tanis Rush said...

You're right, there is no routine to it. I wrote my first book in 5 years, the second in one year and my last, Spooky Tells, came out in about three months. Since then I have been working on two different stories and I haven't finished either of them. Life--cancer, sickness of family members, my own depreciation with age--gets in the way big time. I am happy for you sticking in there and finishing this book! Congratulations!

Patricia Gligor said...

Thanks for writing this post, Sunny! It helped me to put things in perspective.
My first book, Mixed Messages, took ten years to write. I was working full-time and, since it was my first book, I had SO much to learn.
My second book, Unfinished Business, took about a year to write but, in the midst of it being released, my mother fell and broke her hip twice. I'm her only caregiver so promoting the book and taking care of Mom, well, it was a juggling act.
Now, I've spent the past year writing my third book, Desperate Deeds, and, by the grace of God, I finished editing it and sent it to my publisher, just before my mother had another medical emergency. She's in the hospital as I write this.
So, you're absolutely right. As much as we writers wish it weren't true, sometimes "life" has to be the priority.

Gloria Ferris Mystery Writer said...

Sunny, pretty much everything you said resonated with me! I'm looking forward to reading A Snitch in Time - I know it will be as stellar as the first two. Take care.

G. B. Miller said...

Congrats on finishing your latest.

Funny thing about my first is that I finished the first draft in 2 1/2 months. It took me the rest of the year to edit and revise before it became presentable for submitting.

Ilene Schneider said...

Thanks, Sunny. You make me feel better about how long the gap between my books is! Looking forward to your new book.

Dayton Ward said...

"My point is, no two books are written under the same circumstances, no two writers are alike."

This. A thousand times, this.

Congrats on finishing the book, Sunny.

Eileen Obser said...

This is a great discussion you started, Sunny. We all have lives to live outside of our writing lives, and we have to just do the best we can to juggle all of it. It can get frustrating when the writing is slow going, and live is much too fast, but it sure ain't boring. Congratulations on finishing the book!

jrlindermuth said...

Congratulations, Sunny. Despite the time and other challenges, You've accomplished your goal of completing the book. And consider all the people you've helped in the interim. That's no small accomplishment either.

john M. Daniel said...

Heartiest congrats, Sunny. As for how long it takes to write a novel, that depends on what you mean by writing. You've been busy in the writing and publishing business as long as I've known you, and all of that has in some way been part of the process of Snitch. You haven't been slacking, you've been hard at work!

Maureen Fisher said...

I'm with you, Sunny. Life tends to take precedence over writing. After a recent surgery, I'm almost ready to get back in the saddle with COLD FEET FEVER. Good luck with A SNITCH IN TIME.

Virginia Pilegard said...

Well said, Sunny. Routine is a lofty and totally unattainable goal for me. Congratulations and blessings!

Lesley Diehl said...

I have the same concern you have, Sunny. All my books have been read by my critique partner. The one I'm working on now, because I have such a tight deadline, will probably not be seen by her. My editor will see it, of course, but should I worry or trust that I can go it alone?

Sunny Frazier said...

It's great to come clean and have the rest of you tell about your crazy time frames to get books out. I pity the "big" authors who have to kick out a book a year. Do they have a life?

And, how do you sustain quality with that schedule? Sometimes I think a few are phoning it in.

Augie said...

What an informative and uplifting post. Congrats on Snitch (can't wait to read it). I did something I rarely have the time to do, I read every comment before this one, Sunny you have inspired so many people in writing as well as living, your testament of perseverance weighs strong on each of us. You are a real trooper and each time I read your posts my time is never wasted. What is time when you complete something that you call your own? augie

Liane Spicer said...

This post is very meaningful to me. I too have had to take writing breaks, sometimes for years at a time, to accommodate other life priorities. Thank you for sharing!