Novel Writing is Real Work

Writing a novel is a great joy, but a long and tedious undertaking.  I’ve heard that raising children is much the same.  I don’t think my novels are children, born or unborn, published or not.  But I do have a few imaginary families living in my mind.  They keep me busy, distracted, distraught, and in love, just like the flesh and blood thing.

Offering my dear fictional families to be shared by others is a vital part of the publishing process for me.  This matters more than your typical authorial expectations such as becoming famous or making money.  Those would be side effects (not so attractive frankly, in the case of fame.)  I see writing as a way to take my friends (YOU!) on these journeys with me, and I’m out ahead finding the way, marking the steep drop-offs, planting surprises at crucial turns.  This is how I think about writing, how I keep myself going through the grind.  I’m not just sitting in this chair.  No, I’m out working: clearing brush along the trails, planting strawberries, laying bricks, baking bread for our meal.

Metaphors aside, real work can be measured:

  • 1981  Novel, Her Brother’s Wife, by Linda Louise Robb 481 pages. Listed in Library of Congress copyright office.  Offered to many publishers, rejected. If books were children, then this would have been my stillborn. The copyright office listing would be the grave marker.
  • 1984   Revised Her Brother’s Wife, more submissions and rejections until I buried it.
  • 1997   Finished writing the “first novel,” Fans, by Turtle Robb, printed by Riverchild Books, a do it yourself press.  305 pages. 30 copies distributed locally.  Offered to many publishers and agents over next few years, rejected. Began work on next novel.
  • 2004   Fans, rewritten with different narrator, retitled Everyone Needs a Fan.  264 pages.  Offered to many publishers and agents, rejected.  “Real life” was full of painful job rejections at this time, so it made sense to me to try the book publishing nay-sayers again. Better to be rejected for my own work than for jobs other people owned.  Continued work on next novel.
  • 2008-2012 Since my darling Will died in 2008, writing the “next novel” Rain Shine Secrets has been the main love/work of my life.  Completed in Aug 2012, 160,000 words.  Read by about twenty wonderful persons so far. They’ve been fairly positive. Consensus is that it is too long with too many plot lines and characters. Needs revision.
  • September 2012  Fans retitled The Crone Clones and Rain Shine Secrets both entered in Chanticleer Review writing contest.  Rain Shine Secrets won the Blue Ribbon in the unpublished manuscripts category.
  • December 2012  Signed contracts with Village Books for the publication (Book numbers, registrations, printing) of two novels by Alice T. Robb. Rain Shine Secrets (529 pages) and The Crone Clowns (448  pages) were both printed as books, just a few private galleys for circulation among my wonderful personal readers.
  • January 2013, Crone Clowns reviewed by a professional story editor. I’m doing an exciting revision, including a new title Blessed by Silliness. This version will be printed as galleys for advance readers in August.

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