“The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity”
October 7, 2014
I’ve been gone for a very long time. And during this time, I’ve been turning this blog into a book. Well, today is publication day: “The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft and Creativity” is now out from St. Martin’s Press. You can ask for it at your local bookstore or your favorite online provider.
Thank you to all the people who read this blog while I was refining this book. I thought I was finished and all I needed to do was turn the blogs into a book. But, as other bloggers have learned, a blog post is different from a piece of a book. And so there was a lot of revision to do. I first made a provisional manuscript, then with the help of my agent, Joanne Wyckoff, I figured out what the book was really about. That didn’t happen until about the third draft. Then there was the hard work of the Introduction which took the better part of a summer, then another draft, then still another, and another.
Throughout the process, I was continually reminded of how long it takes for a draft of a book to become a book. All the hard work of rethinking, reframing, recasting, rewriting, writing new material. Then there’s responding to the queries of an agent, an editor, a copyeditor. During this process, my editor, Daniella Rapp, at St. Martin’s, knew exactly what she wanted from me, and so it helped.
My agent, Joanne Wyckoff, said early on that I had to really consider what I meant by “slow writing” and why that concept would be important for a beginning writer or a seasoned writer to understand. Essentially it’s quite simply this. In our hurry-up world, many of us think that the only good work is work that can be quickly done. But in fact many famous writers, both those we think of as “classic” writers, and contemporary writers have taken a very long time to perfect their craft and write their books. And Wyckoff also said that I needed to include the stories of contemporary writers. Which I did.
The period when I read interviews–many of them in the Paris Review–to gather material about how long it took for writers to become writers, how long it took them for writers to write an important work, how many revisions they went through, thier failures and missteps–was sublime. I love learning about how “real” writers work. And I continue to believe that all writers will be helped if they do know.
I’m proud of this book. Proud that I began it during a tough patch in my own writing life. Proud that I kept at it after cancer treatment. Proud of what it stands for: my hope that it will help writers bring works of art to fruition by learning that others like them have gone through difficulties, too.
Margaux Fragoso, author of Tiger, Tiger has said, “I want to hand a copy to every writer I know and every writer I don’t know.”
Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train has said, “As I read, I found myself underlining, dog-earing pages, writing notes in the margin, inspired by DeSalvo’s passion and focus.”
Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, has said, “The Art of Slow Writing will free the reader, whether aspiring or seasoned, from the isolation, panic, and self-doubt that comes with the calling, but more than that, for all lovers of literature, this book is itself a treasure of a story.”
And Kathryn Harrison has said, “Whether in the classroom or on the page, DeSalvo is that rare teacher who is both exacting and inspiring.”
A big thank you to all of who have supported my work on this fine day. And now for a glass of champagne!