Today we welcome Densie Webb who likens writing a novel to preparing Thanksgiving Dinner
Densie Webb (not Denise) has spent a long career as a freelance nonfiction writer and editor. Her debut novel “You’ll Be Thinking of Me” was released by Soul Mate Publishing in January 2015. She is an avid walker (not of the dead variety), drinks too much coffee and has a small “devil dog” that keeps her on her toes. She is currently working on a second novel.
So, Densie, why preparing Thanksgiving Dinner?When my debut novel, “You’ll Be Thinking of Me,” came out in January, I spotted a common theme among the comments I received: “I couldn’t put it down. A real page-turner. I read it in two days.” That’s a good thing, right? No, it’s a great thing. But there’s also this thing: It took me five years from first sitting down at the computer to my publication date—five years of climbing the learning curve of writing fiction, researching, writing, rewriting, editing, and submitting to agents and publishers.
Let that one soak in for a moment. Five years vs. two days. That’s when it hit me: Writing a novel is akin to preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Each year, on the 4th Thursday of November, the majority of Americans sit down to “give thanks for the blessing of the harvest.” At least that’s what Wikipedia says. Whatever the symbolism behind the traditional Thanksgiving meal, the ingrained image is that of a Norman Rockwell painting in which the family savors the once-a-year feast together.
I’ve noticed, however, there are no Rockwell paintings depicting the long hours logged in the kitchen in front of a hot stove, getting the ingredients and timing just right as you make sure the pumpkin pies are chilled by the time the meal is done and the dressing isn’t dry or the turkey undercooked. Neither are there depictions of the grocery lists or last-minute return trips when you’ve forgotten that one essential ingredient.
And that’s where my writing analogy comes in. Anyone who has ever prepared, served and cleaned up after a traditional Thanksgiving meal will attest to the planning, labor, skill, patience and the hours it takes to get it right. And that feeling of “is that it?” when the meal is scarfed down in twenty minutes flat. While I’m thrilled beyond words that readers have found my novel “unputdownable,” I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get the same “is that it?” feeling when I heard it was being gulped down in two days.
Then there’s the cleanup. The turkey carcass is waiting to be picked over and the leftovers bagged and frozen. That’s when you realize you don’t have enough storage containers and there’s not enough space in the refrigerator anyway. The dirty dishes are waiting to be washed by hand because you used the good china, and the pots and pan have remnants of gooey tradition stuck on the bottom. I liken this phase to promoting your book. It may feel like all the hard work is done, but it’s just beginning. You have to clear your mind and your desk, roll up your sleeves and put everything in its place so you can post, blog, tweet, and advertise in the hope of reaching more prose-hungry people.
Is it all worth it? It must be, because I’m already planning for the next “Thanksgiving feast.”
A wonderful analogy, Densie. Good luck with You’ll Be Thinking of Me and with the next Thanksgiving feast.
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