How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

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The quickest I've ever written a book is a month. It's happened when I had a very tight deadline and a clear outline, and it's happened when I had a spark of inspiration that caused me to write until my fingers threatened to fall off. I'd start with the first word and about four weeks later, I'd have "the end."'s rare. Very rare. 

It took me a little over a year to get this book right. I rewrote it several times, each time bumping the first chapter later and later, telling more of the history of the characters, the world, the magic. I wrote literally hundreds of thousands of words that were cut before I finally carved out the story.

But I started my first draft of Give the Dark my Love around three years ago. I was in the middle of other projects, but I wanted to play with the idea of good and evil, monster and hero. In the original draft, Nedra and Grey were enemies. Grey was sent to kill Nedra, the presumed villain, but by the end of the story realized he was the monster, not her. 

Wait...I actually started writing this book five years ago. I had just seen the movie Snow White and the Huntsman, and while the main story line didn't really grab me, the evil queen, played by Charlize Theron, totally captured my attention. There was something about the way she looked, the way she talked, the way she embodied this totally cold, ruthless, and evil character that made me want to write someone similar. 

Although, really, if we want to get down to it, I actually started writing this book more than a decade ago, I just didn't know it. I was really getting into anime, and I loved stories like Inuyasha and Fullmetal Alchemist--stories that were magical, but the magic had a cost. FMA really drew me in on this subject. (We cannot discuss Nina, do not think about Nina, oh my poor sweet Nina.)

You could even say that I started writing this book in high school, when I read Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, the book that first led to my fascination with the Black Plague in the Middle Ages. Studying that plague gave me the background to develop the plague I ultimately put in Give the Dark my Love.

Although, if you're going to argue that, I started writing this book when I was in elementary school through junior high. During that time, my parents took me and my brother on family road trips to every single Civil War battlefield in the South, and many of the Northern ones as well. This was...not as exciting as you may think. A lot of battlefields are still...fields. With grass. Sometimes, if things are really wild, there's corn. But there were also books. And even as a kid, I liked the books that were pretty brutal. So I read a lot about the medical practices and the aftermath of the Civil War, including--especially--amputations. 

How long does it take to write a book? One word after another, a few weeks, maybe a few months. But also a lifetime. Every experience, everything I've learned, every bit of art I've loved or hated, all of it, over the course of years and decades and more, all of it, is what it takes to write a book. 

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