The sheer amount of times that a) someone has said this to me and b) I’ve put this post back in my drafts because it fills me with rage is somehow equal, and I hate it.
I was about to say that I feel like a lot of my posts have been ranty lately, but it’s just been the last couple of ones, and the rest was mostly goofy before, so we’re good. And this one is definitely justified because, if you’re also a writer, multiple people have said this to you before, and it’s made you want to jump off a cliff. And I know it’s because writing, on the outside, doesn’t look that hard, and I know that these people don’t mean to just squash the insanely hard work we’ve been doing for years and years and years, but also? Do you look at a professional sports player and say, “I always meant to compete in major league soccer.” No, you do not.
I saw a Tweet the other day that really brought this home. One of my favorite authors, Makiia Lucier, was talking about how it usually takes her anywhere from six months to upwards of a year & a half to write a book. She mentioned how she knew that drafting a book was wildly different for all authors, and while this is definitely true, I also think it’s definitely true that writing a book takes a long time for all of us. Regardless of where you are in the process, whether it’s drafting, revising, or what have you, writing a book takes forever.
I started writing the first sister witches in November 2017. Maybe October? I can’t remember, it was right at the end of the year, and I think I was trying to write it for Halloween, so October feels more right. Normally, it takes me about three to four months to draft a book, but I was feeling particularly psychotic with sister witches, and I wrote the first half in about two months before taking a several months long break before I finished the second half of it in about May and June of 2018? Somewhere around there. I continued to work on the series for the rest of 2018 and throughout most of 2019, and while I did draft the second and third book, I also went back and worked on revisions of the first book. My critique partner had it for a while, and even after she returned edits to me and I worked on revising according to their edits, there was still a second round of revision that I went through where I had to add a few chapters and work through some kinks.
Fast forward to 2021, and I’m finally getting some traction on sister witches. Over the summer, I received two requests for the full manuscript from two different agents, which is way farther than I’ve ever gotten in querying. And yet, there’s still work to be done. There’s bits of one of the characters story that I know I need to tweak some more, there are scenes that I need to hone into a better shape, and there’s just overall work to do to it. It’s in really good shape, and I’m proud of handing it out to these agents, but it’s also been four years since I started working on it.
And so, when I talk about writing and someone flippantly says, “I’ve always meant to write a book,” it sets my blood to boil.
Writing a book is nowhere even close to easy. Lately, while I’ve been really excited about my full requests, I keep saying to people that this is almost twenty years in the making. When I was in the fifth grade, at around age 12, my English teacher encouraged me to write more after I asked her if I could add onto the assignment we’d been given, and I wrote an entire series of books. She read them for me, gave me wonderful feedback, and asked if I’d like to do a meet the author q&a with my fellow classmates. It was terrifying, but exhilarating. It was also the beginning.
I’ve since removed all of the fanfiction I wrote in those early days because it’s truly horrendous, but I had to write those terribly written stories in order to get where I am now. I had to laugh when my friends tried to convince me to add dragon motorcycles to my high fantasy book because I was already doing portal magic and a Chosen One arc, so it felt like too much on already too much. I had to write–good grief–217 fics, which doesn’t even include the ones not cross-posted on AO3. I had to give up on a twelve-year novel, absolutely crash land through my first YA, and finally find my footing again for the first time in a new idea. I had to work my way through seventeen years of questionable writing so that I could be here, right now, in 2021 with two full manuscript requests.
And though it’s 100% not necessary in order to be an author, I also went to school for Creative Writing & English. I took eight writing classes, four of them advanced, and every single literature elective that I could find. I’ve written poetry, screenplays, short stories, and novellas in addition to the novels I work on daily. I have literally been working on honing my craft for seventeen years, but you’ve always meant to write a book.
Writing is hard. It takes mental exhaustion from trying to force ourselves through the dark depths of being uncertain where the story is headed or if it’s even worth it, physical exhaustion from staying up late writing or forcing hours into the day when there weren’t any before so we can try to write, and emotional exhaustion from constantly tearing our words apart just to build them back up. I hate it as much as I love it. But I also have no choice in the matter because writing stories is what I’m meant to do, and I would actually go insane without them.
It’s not that I’ve always meant to write a book, but that I’ve always been called to write, that my purpose here is to write, that I’ve meant to write a book and I did, over and over and over. And when someone listens to me rattle on about how much writing means to me and says, “I’ve always meant to write a book,” it feels like being stabbed. It feels like you haven’t listened to a single word I’ve said. Or it feels like you’ve heard it all, and you’ve decided that it sounds easy as pie, so why not?
(Sidebar: easy as pie? What a dumbass saying, pie is also hard to make.)
Writing is not just a thing you do willy nilly, and suggesting otherwise is not only rude to your friends who write, but makes you sound like an asshole. People who say I’ve always meant to write a book also believe that that book is going to take a month to write, is never going to require revisions, and is instantly going to be a NYT bestseller’s, and that’s just exhausting to hear. Maybe if you’ve always meant to write a book, you should actually give it a shot and then realize how truly unprepared you are for what that means.