Sue Grafton’s latest book (W is for Wasted) is due next month (10 September, so Amazon says). In ramping up for the release, a two-part interview with her has recently been released over at Writer at Play. While I had name recognition, I didn’t start reading Grafton’s Alphabet series until early 2007. (I’m currently about halfway trhough P is for Peril, and the reading is unfrotunately going slower than most [thanks to the demands of an MFA program, not the novel itself].)
As a writer, I think it’s interesting to get a peek into anyone’s process, especially those that have sold as well as Grafton. The entries are worth a read, but there are a couple of items that I think are worth repeating.
First, her journaling. I’ve known for years that she keeps a journal for each of her novels – there are some excerpts of a few available on her website. What I did not know, was how big they can get.
The journal is where I keep plot possibilities, ideas, research notes, character sketches, dialogue when it occurs to me. The collective journals for ‘V’ IS FOR VENGEANCE came to 967 single-spaced pages. The journals for ‘W’ came to 1298 single-spaced pages on the day I finished the book…
Then there’s some of her thoughts on productivity:
Most of the time I’m sitting here because that’s what it takes. Comfortable or uncomfortable doesn’t make any difference. I suffer because I feel stupid and clumsy and blocked most of the time, but so what? That is all part of the process. If you’re not willing to sweat it out, you’re in the wrong business. No short cuts.
It takes fifteen years of being published before you can support yourself with the writing. This is not a career for sissies or cowards. You better get used to hard work. And rejection and frustration. That’s what teaches you. You can’t side-step the anguish.
Those last two reitterate: it’s butt-in-chair and persistance that are key factors in the writing process… for those that need reminding.