Today I received bound galleys for Hardball, which is always an exciting time in the life of a book. It’s a strange time, too, because it represents a kind of final separation between you and the work you’ve lived with for a long time–it’s in print, it’s thrilling, but the book no longer belongs to you. It belongs now to readers, who not only bring their own experience and expectations to the novel, but understand it –complete it– in ways that differ from your own ideas while you were writing it.
My novels run about 135,000 words. That’s a lot of text and it takes a long time to write. I don’t make them that long on purpose, but as a story and characters develop, and they become more complex, it takes that long to work all the threads of the story out.
It also takes time to work out such dense story lines. I’ve been urged to write two or even three books a year, but I’d have to think in a different way than I do now, a staccato, ad-copy kind of way that focused only on brief bursts of action, with less time spent on thinking through my characters. Even if I could reprogram my brain to write like James Patterson’s stable of writers, I’m not sure stories like his would appeal to V I’s readers.
I often write three or more drafts before a novel comes into its correct shape. I wish it didn’t happen like that–I wish the first draft were the final draft–but that’s happened to me only once in the course of the eighteen books I’ve published–and that was with the fourth novel in the V I series, Bitter Medicine. More than once, I’ve discarded over two hundred pages, and found I could use only two or three paragraphs of the work I tossed.
Thank you all for staying with me on my writing journey.