How long does it take to write a novel?

clock-474128_640Another frequent question I still get when discussing my novels is how long it took me to write the books. If I had timed each time I sat down to work on the novels, I would have liked the answer a little more as I could more accurately calculate the man-hours it took.

Be that as it may, the average is a year which includes the planning, development, writing and then final editing. Sounds good right?

All is not as it seems though. I started “The Windfarer” in 2002, and the astute among you would have picked up from my last blog that I only published it in 2007. That is 5 years from when I picked up the pen to write the first line of the History of Celenic Earth until the books were finally released to the public. However, that was not constant writing, day after day. I never really took myself that seriously when I wrote the first novel, which may be evident when you read “Part 1” and see how it differs a bit from the story-telling in the rest of the book. It was only in 2005 that I truly decided to give it a go and I finalised Part 2 and 3 in 2006.

manuscript-547038_640My search for a publisher began in earnest at the start of 2006, and I aimed for a traditional publishing house that was located in Cape Town, just across the street from where I was working at that time. I printed the entire document and handed the manuscript in, with a professional cover, a chapter break-down and an overall synopsis of the entire series. The publisher loved the novel and felt it was good, but they said, and I quote: “The market for fantasy in South Africa is very small, and therefore we are hesitant to undertake this project.” Unfortunately I was a bit ahead of my time here in good old SA – fast forward a few years and fantasy is running rampant here, which started with the film releases of “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter”.

That didn’t stop me though, as I knew that the United Kingdom and United States of America were big on fantasy. I also tried Australia. I hit a big stumbling block in that international traditional houses did not accept unsolicited manuscripts. And that was when I discovered self-publishing, whereby you pay a publisher to have your work published. I researched a few of them and found one that I was comfortable publishing with. Come bonus month at the end of 2006, and we had a contract and the rest is history.

head-663993_640By the time “The Windfarer” was released in 2007, I was already halfway with “The DragonRider”. I was so much into writing at that point that it really became, no not daily, but as often as possible. By the end of 2007 I was ready to use my next bonus pay to establish a contract for the 2nd Celenic Earth novel, and it was released in April 2008. I was steamrolling with my writing, and ideas for other non-Shadowolf novels kept flooding my head. I dreamt of novels, I wrote them mentally on the way to work, and I daydreamed of them during meetings (which I eventually had to learn to tame as it was causing problems).

By the end of 2009, “The Sadgi” was complete. It almost took all there was of me to finish that book, the culmination of so much planning and development. I did not rush to publish it though, despite so many requests. In my blog ‘Reviews you find after 8 years of being published…’ , I mentioned that my publisher at that time kept indicating that there were no sales from the novels, which made me wonder if the 3rd was worth spending my next bonus pay on. Of course, I hadn’t seen the many reviews that were happening on online forums. My publisher was also not communicating with me at all, something that I discovered through research was becoming a common occurrence amongst the rest of their published authors.

3065_castle_tv_seriesSo I decided to alter my focus for a bit. Due to changes in our organisation at that time, I embarked on a Degree in Facilities Management to further my career. Also, in 2010 I met the woman I would marry and we fell pregnant later that year. Suddenly life became busy and after so many years of study, I have finally settled back to focusing on my passion for novels. I can’t say I missed writing – the studies had me writing assignments of 50,000 words at a time, and at my work I focused on writing for our Department’s monthly newsletter, taking the minutes of any meeting I could find where I could showcase my writing skills, which eventually lead me to reports and presentations to the Mayor’s Committee and the Executive Management Team. Now if, like the TV series “Castle”, the Mayor would ask me to assist the South African Police Force to solve murder crimes, I would be set for life. Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic and the rest of the NYPD cast are so awesome!

So how long does it take me to write a novel? On average a year, but with a family of 4 now and life being just a little different who knows. I’m also focusing on marketing the Celenic Earth Chronicles as much as I can and with the Cinequest screenwriting competition. The first Silent Hill novel’s planning and development are 100% complete though, and I should start writing just after the competition. I’m also trying to aim at making my future novels smaller than Celenic Earth, so maybe it won’t take as long.

As they say in the classics, we’ll see how it goes….

The Count of Celenic Earth

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