Sometimes a book takes its own sweet time. I’ve talked before about the long journeys some of my work has travelled from the initial spark to the published story.
There was Bella and the Wandering House, which took 14 years, and which I wrote about here.
There was Let Me Sleep, Sheep!, which was 13 years, and which I wrote about here.
There was How to Make a Bird (17 years, here.)
And Ella and the Useless Day (17 years, here.)
There are many reasons why so much time can elapse from pen-on-paper to publication. Sometimes it’s about the idea percolating and sometimes it’s about the writer procrastinating … or perhaps pondering. Sometimes it’s about the publishing world needing to catch up to the concept.
For the most part, this slowness has served me well. If How to Make a Bird had been embraced by publishers when I was first sending it out, it wouldn’t have ended up in the hands of Matt Ottley. It would be nothing like the beautiful art object it is today. If Ella and the Useless Day had been published in its original form, I would always have felt as if I’d somehow missed the point, not quite got to the heart of what I was trying to say. And I could never have collaborated with Karen Blair, who has brought much more to it than I could ever have imagined.
I say “for the most part” because there have been downsides – sleeping projects I’ve had to shelve because someone came out with something that was just too similar. Still, though, the hits have been relatively benign. Like most writers, I’m sure, I have a whole storehouse of fragments and snippets, endless beginnings of maybe-possible future things. Some have a little more momentum than others, have gathered more thoughts around them, begun to take on a somewhat recognisable shape. But even so, they’re still just beginnings, formative, not too hard to be philosophical about when I’ve had to let go.
Until now, that is.Continue reading