Frequently Asked Questions

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was six years old. I still have my first book which consists of several pieces of notebook paper stapled together. If I ever become really famous, I’m sure my children will dig it out of my memorabilia and sell it on ebay.

How long does it take to write a book?
Much longer than it takes to read a book—something I’ve always found vaguely unfair. I will have worked on a book for an entire year, and then someone comes up to me and says, “Great book. I read it yesterday afternoon.” Yesterday afternoon?

Anyway, depending on how much revising, editing, and rereading there is to do on a manuscript (and there’s always a lot of that), when all is said and done, I spend about an hour on each page.

Do writers make a lot of money?
Ha, ha, ha. If you’re looking for a career that would actually pay you a decent wage per hour (see last question), try driving a truck, flipping burgers, digging ditches—anything instead of writing. Authors write not for the money, but because they love writing. Or as my friend Jennie Hansen says, “Writing is my favorite way to make myself miserable.”

When are you going to make dinner?
This is a frequently asked question by my children. The answer is usually, “I’m busy writing. Pour yourself some Cheerios.”

I want to become a writer. Any advice?
Read the genre you want to write in. Read books on writing. Develop friendships with people who’ll read your work and give you honest feedback. (As opposed to your spouse who is smart enough to reply, “It’s good. I liked it,” to everything you write.) Then write and write and write.

Oh, one other piece of advice: if you happen to be a teenager and write cheesy, melodramatic poetry, DON’T give any to your boyfriend. Years later when you actually become a writer, you’ll worry that he may have kept all of that stuff, and it will resurface someday, and you will become the laughing stock of anyone who reads it.