Why does it take so long?

I’ve been working on my current novel for five years. Thinking about it for ten, or even more. I remember that when the idea first hit me,  I was out to dinner with my husband and we had to go home because we had a babysitter. My daughter is now planning her wedding. So that gives me some orientation.  Of course, I haven’t been working on it non-stop for all these years. During the time I’ve been working on this one, I wrote another book, about India, and then my two Maggie Dove books. Still, the story for this one has been running like an undercurrent through everything I’ve done, and when I run into old friends they always ask, How’s that book? I know I’m not alone. Several of the students in my novel writing class have been working on the same manuscript for years. They’re working hard, thinking, revising. It’s great to be with them because we’re a sort of support group for each other.  But why is it taking so long? Partly because I chose a subject that I didn’t know much about, but wanted to, and in order to feel qualified to write about it I had to study and learn. Partly because the characters were complicated to me and I had to spend a lot of time trying to understand them. Partly because it took me forever to figure out the right point of view, but once I did, everything fell into place. Also, it took me a very long time to understand how the crime could be committed.  But now that I’m almost done (I think) I’m really pleased. I’ve given it my best shot. I think it warrants all the time I’ve spent on it. Or I hope so. How about you? What’s the longest you’ve ever worked on something?   

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