The Secret to Writing Is Simple

This week the Debs are writing about our experience of time: time writing books and the publishing timeline. 

The venerable Dorothy Parker said a lot of witty things, most of which I either identify with or just plain adore. She has a few witty quips about writing in particular which I identify with:

  1. “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
  2.  “The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘cheque enclosed.'”
  3. “I hate writing, I love having written.”

But there is one that I often refer to when people say that writing must be hard. It’s directly connected to #3 above.

I always reply that yes, putting your ass in the seat is usually the hardest thing to do. And it is hard. Working after you’ve worked all day is even harder. It’s why when I look back and see how long it’s taken me to write FEAST OF SORROW (and my second novel, still in progress) I find myself a bit baffled and slightly ashamed. I began writing the novel in 2007. But it didn’t take me ten years to write it. I would write a chapter one weekend, then another chapter several weeks later. That pattern was never very cut and dry. Over the course of about five years, it pieced itself together, but I bet that if I could really boil down the amount of time that it took me to write and edit the book I bet it would be less than six-eight months in total of actual, regular work. Then it took me three years to find an agent. Five months later I had a publisher, but from the time I first talked to my editor at Touchstone to the moment when book goes on sale on April 25, 2017, it will be seventeen more months. So, basically, it all stretched out into a decade.

The truth is, I am much better with deadlines. When I don’t have any, it’s easy for me to lose focus, to find myself “uninspired” and then I absorb myself in a video game or a book and shut out the world. Self-imposed deadlines aren’t the same but I do try and make them and adhere to them, but distraction is easy to succumb to. Which means I’ve spent way too long writing my books than I should have.

But this week I’m going to finish chapters 20 and 21 on my work in progress, about a chef in Renaissance Italy. Really. And I may do a bit of research too…

Author: Crystal King

Crystal King is a writer, culinary enthusiast and social media expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and an obsession with the food, language and culture of Italy. She has taught writing, creativity and social media at Grub Street and several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University. Crystal received her masters in critical and creative thinking from University of Massachusetts Boston. She lives with her husband and their two cats in the Boston area.