Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Some books take long to write, but many don't

Recently, I have noticed a lot of accomplished writers sounding off against authors churning out a bazillion books in a short amount of time. Without even reading these books, they have decided that the books are bad and of poor quality. Surely those books could not stand up to the merits of fine literature! Why else would the book be written so quickly instead of that author toiling away at the manuscript for years like the rest of us?

I can’t help but get a little riled by these writers. It’s unfortunate that they fail to see that some books can indeed be written in a short amount of time – and STILL be a good book!

I know, it’s important to spend time writing a book if you want the book to be the best it can be. This is true. I spent years writing what was to eventually become my novel Shadow of Samhain. I toiled for more years on Parenting Pauses: Life as a Deaf Parent. And I’m still pinching myself that, after over 10 years, I finally finished the haunted cities book!

But not all of my books took so long to write, or even get published. Some books were published the very same year that they were written! (Side note: That doesn’t often happen.) That doesn’t mean that they were “bad” books. Just that they were books I managed to write in a short amount of time! And it’s unfair when people decide that just because I wrote them so fast, they are crap.

I have been writing for a very long time. In fact, it was 20 years ago when I wrote my first novel. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to write a book. Sure, I practiced writing book-length fiction as a teenager, but I didn’t start writing books from the get-go. I took time to write before I started writing books. Forgive me for getting to a point where I can crank out a book so quickly!

Also, some people may think that a book just magically wrote itself and that’s why the authors can crank out so many. I don’t know what kinds of systems some of these authors have in place, but for me, I work on several books at a time. I write fiction, poetry, children’s books and nonfiction, and I have several different types of these books going on at a time. I tinker with one and put the focus on another. Once that other one is finished and complete, I take the book I was tinkering with and put the focus on THAT one. Then I tinker with another, write in it here and there, until I finish the one I’d been tinkering with before. This is how I am able to always have work going on. It helps that I have so many ideas for books. Also, some books, like the children’s books, are already written. I just put them away for a while until it’s time to pull it out, fix it up and send it.

And, hey, guess what? Writers write. That’s what we do. If we write books, we are frantically writing books. It’s this unstoppable force within us that cannot and will not be quenched. We are writing books like there is no tomorrow! That doesn’t make them bad books. That doesn’t mean that the final result that is published is no good. It just means we have a lot of books going on that we just can’t stop writing – but when the time comes for getting a book ready for publication, we ARE willing to make sure it is a damn good book. We invest the time, energy and brainpower to revise, edit, fix, change, toss out, add, update and give an overall facelift in order to make sure the book is the very best. We DO that. We want the book to be good, and we’re willing to make sure it is good. We just are capable of getting our good books out there faster.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The writing challenge that inspired my new poetry book, April Showers

April is National Poetry Month, and since I am a huge fan of poetry, I always try to celebrate NPM in some way. It’s either by reading poetry books (especially by poets I’m not familiar with), reading biographical pieces about poets, sharing poetry with others, sharing stuff about poetry on social media, or by reading and, of course, writing poetry. I love poetry. I love reading poetry. And I love writing poetry!

So last year, for National Poetry Month, I decided to take those last three things and put them into a writing challenge. For the entire month of April in 2013, I challenged myself to write at least one poem a day. At that point, I wasn’t sure if I’d turn my efforts into a book, but after I was done and completed the challenge, I thought, why not?

And since it was an “April” poetry book, I gave it the title of one of the poems included: “April Showers.” I even debated dedicating the book to my friend, April, but, alas, she doesn’t like poetry. (Don’t worry, April, we’re still friends!) So I decided, why not dedicate it to someone who has a birthday in April? The person I decided to dedicate the book to is my husband’s grandmother, whose birthday was on Friday.

Now some notes on the poems in this book. Some of the poems celebrate poetry as well as National Poetry Month, but some others were written in honor of special days that take place in April:

April Fool’s Day
Tax Day
Poem In Your Pocket Day
Earth Day
National DNA Day

I know that Easter is in April this year but it was not last year (it was on March 31st) so I didn’t write a poem about Easter in this book. (Doesn’t mean I still won’t write a poem about Easter!)

There were other things that inspired the poems in this book, as well.

News articles I read inspired these poems:

“Books Still Matter”
“Religion That Kills”
“Be Smart About Guns”
“It Takes Time to Be Good”

Current events inspired me to write these poems:

“Boston’s Sad Day” (about the Boston Marathon bombing)
“Prayers for Texas” (about the deadly explosion in West Texas in which 15 people died)
“Book Fair” (about the annual book fair taking place every April here in Eugene)

And, finally, miscellaneous things that happened during the month – like when I got stranded at the library, saw a man dragging a limping dog on a leash, experienced discrimination from a school after I wasn’t answering their phone calls (I actually blogged about that whole mess here) and had a funny conversational exchange with my daughter who was craving pie -–also inspired me to write poems in this book (respectively, “Stuck at the Library,” “Limping Dog,” “On Deaf Ears” and “Pie”).

The final poem in that book, “A Month of Poetry,” recaps my writing challenge and how I accomplished it. (Yay!)

I am very grateful to Denise Bartlett for editing these poems. I am also very grateful to Charlotte Holley for another great cover for this poetry book (my seventh!). I love the cover! I knew I wanted there to be rain and flowers on the cover but I did not have an exact “image” in mind. I decided to go with flowers that bloom in April (azaleas) and Charlotte found some great images to whip together for the cover. All in all, I’m very happy with the way this book turned out!

My next poetry book will be the soldier poems book. I will be going back to theme books for a while, but we’ll see if another writing challenge inspires a future poetry book.

Happy National Poetry Month!

Blurb for April Showers:

To many, the month of April is known as National Poetry Month. But April also brings Earth Day, National DNA Day and the ever-dreaded Tax Day! April Showers was written during National Poetry Month of 2013, in which one poet wrote at least one poem a day that captured everything she read, saw and experienced in verse, as well as celebrating April's special days.

Buy link

Labels: , ,