Q. How long does it take to get published

A. 10 years

Apparently. Or so a publishing friend of mine says.

Ten years is the average amount of time it takes a person to publish a novel after they first put pen to paper. Although it pains me to think I could have another seven years of writing, editing, more writing and more editing ahead of me, I also take on board the fact that in most professions you wouldn’t reach a decent professional status in less than five years, and often it takes many more. And so it should.

Still, when I first heard this statistic, I thought my friend was exaggerating somewhat. Or trying to prepare me for the worst. Or both. Then I sat down  and read through a few testimonies. There’s one from Joanna Trollope in this year’s version of the Writers and Artists Yearbook. It took her twenty years. TWENTY. But she’s sanguine about it. ‘The long haul suited me’, she says. I can see why. It takes a long time to get your head around everything which needs to be done to write a great novel, and even longer to get the hang of it in terms of output. Like anything, practice makes perfect, but practice means a lot of words -maybe books and books full of words- prior to the book which hits the spot.

Another writing acquaintance of mine took six years to publish his first book.

An article I read today in Red magazine talked of an author who took eleven years.

Far from being unusual, it seems the ‘long haul’ is the norm.

Oh well, c’est la vie. If you love writing, you’ll keep doing it because the writing itself sustains you,