I am currently revising the first draft of my novel Cocke & Bull. I finished writing this first draft about ten months ago and until mid-December 2010 I ignored it to work on other projects. I would like to get through revisions pretty quickly so that I can turn to yet another project, because I dream of a future in which I produce a publication-ready novel about once a year.
That might be impossible, though. I've been trying to figure out how long I'll need to write a book, and of course the answer is going to be that "it depends on the book."
My first novel, which we'll call The Unpublishable Mess, took about five years to write. That was just a first draft. My next novel, Killing Hamlet, took about three years to get from "raw idea" to "on submission." I wrote the first draft of Cocke & Bull in about five months and I'd like to think that I can get it properly rewritten and ready for submission in fewer than seven months, which means that--were I not interrupted by other projects--it is theoretically possible for me to write and revise a novel in a year.
Which idea pleases the organized Virgo part of my mind, because the timeline is neat and tidy and possibly could lead to a dependable income stream at some future point in time. But the idea troubles the disorganized Artist part of my mind, especially when I consider that many of my favorite authors take years to write a book, and that many of my favorite books took forever to write. I wonder, you know, if I'm not being careful enough with my stories, if I'm not considering them long enough, not putting enough work into them, not bringing the goods, as it were.
The thing is, I write pretty quickly. Either I have an idea for a novel that I can write or I don't; if I do, I write it down and if I don't, I go watch BTVS on DVD or whatever until I think up a different book to write. While I am certainly in a white-hot fever during the actual writing, I don't feel like I'm rushing the work. It takes as long as it takes, but no longer. I have friends who have labored for years over novels, while over lunch today I wrote a new scene to insert into my WIP, spending no more than 15 minutes on it. Maybe I'll rewrite the scene, and maybe I won't; it feels pretty solid to me.
So where I'm going with all of this is to ask you, Mighty Writers, how long you spend on your novels. I'm looking to see what sort of data point spread there is so I can plot my own progress versus the statistical mean. Or something. Anyway, how long does it take you to write/revise a book? If you've been published (Alex), that's an additional helpful bit of info.