Rumor had it that Jack Kerouac wrote "On The Road" in three weeks. According to the legend, he made a giant scroll of paper so that feeding new sheets into the typewriter wouldn't slow him down, sat down, and hammered out this masterpiece in twenty-one days.
I grew up believing that rumor. When I finally landed New York contracts and my editor asked me how long it would take me to write a single title, this rumor came to mind. If Jack Kerouac could hammer out that masterpiece in three weeks, how long could it take me to write an erotic romance?
Luckily, my agent talked sense into me, and I didn't offer to write anything in three weeks. It took me four months to write my first single title, five months to write my second, and six months to write my third. I hope that this increased length reflects my growth as a writer, but in the back of my mind, I keep hearing that Jack Kerouac rumor.
And it's been making me feel like a literary slacker.
But I just heard something that made me feel a lot better. It took Jack three weeks to TYPE "On the Road," and it took him substantially longer to write it and revise it and revise it again and again. In fact, it took him closer to seven years to write "On The Road," and he had one hell of a time selling it. According to NPR, he had to publish bits and pieces of it in magazines, and he had to wait for the old NY editors to retire and new blood to come in before he saw his work made into an actual book.
"On The Road" turns fifty in September, and it still sells 100,000 copies each year. So congrats to Jack and the agent that completely believed in him!
And Jack, if you're listening, I'm so very glad you didn't write "On The Road" in three weeks, and to my internal psyche, if you're listening, please don't take seven years to write anything.