'60 Guineas! But it only took you 10 minutes.'
'Ah yes,' JMW Turner is supposed to have replied. '10 minutes, and 40 years of experience.'
I'm dredging my memory of my Art History degree for this anecdote, so it may not be 100% accurate, but it came to mind when I was giving feedback to those 40 first pages a couple of weekends ago. I've given feedback to so many writers over the past 15 years that it doesn't take much time for me to analyse a text and spot what may be holding the author back. People sometimes are amazed that it only takes a few minutes for me to see something that they haven't despite hours of slaving away at their work. Well, a) I'm an outsider and b) I've done it before. 10 minutes, and 15 years experience in my case.
As well as reading other people's work, I've written quite a few words of my own - well over a million I think, given my prediliction for cutting vast chunks out of my early drafts. The more I write, the easier and quicker it is to write. Similarly writing this blog. Posts took ages at the beginning. Now ideas come often, and take less time to write up.
People sometimes ask me for a possible timescale to publication, and the immediate answer has to be: no one knows. A deal could turn up tomorrow, or never.
But I think JMW Turner suggests another answer. The time it takes will be directly related to the amount of time - writing, reading, giving and getting critiques, researching the publishing business, promoting yourself etc - that you put into it.