How long does a book take? 20 days, 3,650 days, or one day? Depends who the author is. At one extreme is Jack Kerouac, who famously dashed off On the Road in a 20-day, pharmaceutically-assisted frenzy – though editors everywhere breathed a sigh of job security relief that the manuscript showed signs of extensive edits when it went up for auction at Christie’s. (The 120-foot long scroll sold for an unprecedented $2.4 million.)
Then there’s author John Berendt, whose follow-up to his widely acclaimed 1994 book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was published a decade later. Not that Berendt has been slacking off on the job. When your book gets made into a movie starring Kevin Spacey, that’s generally considered gainful employment … though as Berendt said in an interview this week, “The people who acted in the movie – particularly Kevin Spacey – hadn’t a clue what a Savannah accent was. Missed it by a mile.”
Then there were Berendt’s obligatory research trips to Venice to research City of Fallen Angels over the course of four years. Some might question whether all those trips were strictly obligatory, but come on: if you had literary license to hang out along the Grand Canal, wouldn’t you? As Berendt explains, “I had been a magazine person, writing articles all my career. I wasn’t satisfied, because I put a lot of work into it and after a couple months the magazine is tossed away and that’s that. It’s perishable.”
Now there’s something every blogger can relate to – only blogs don’t even get a chance to languish in a bathroom rack, or get musty in a recycling bin. Once blog posts lose their new entry smell, they are retired to online archives, to be uncovered only by diligent Googling or Technorating. Thus the inspiration for Blurb’s new Blog Slurper, which allows bloggers to give their best posts pride of place on a coffee table near you.
And if you’ve been blogging or photographing for a while, you could beat Jack Kerouac for speed-publishing without even so much as a cup of coffee. Flow your archives into a Blurb text and pictures book tonight, and your book arrives next week – giving you an edge of at least 10 days over Kerouac, and 3,640 days over Berendt.
So tell us: How long did your book take?