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Novellas, no sweat.
Short stories, a breeze.
But when it comes to writing anything from 50,000 to 100,000 words, it takes me forever.
So when I sat down, way back in 2005, fresh after completing my second novel, I decided to waste no time and get started on the third novel. I wrote five chapters, got distracted, walked away from the computer and would tinker here and there with it from time to time. Understand, I wasn't bored with the story. I just had this thing called life to deal with. Many things needed to happen first before I would get Pickpocket Frankie out into the world. I've moved, several times. Got married, our daughter was born. I went through many different jobs and I also transferred this book across three different computers. One was a desktop that needed 30 minutes to boot up. The second was a laptop that weighed twenty pounds, and now, finally, the one I'm writing on now.
I've jotted notes about this book on old receipts, spiral notebooks and even emailed notes to myself.
Microsoft Word tells me that, all told, the actual writing time took only 34 hours and 14 minutes. But that doesn't account for the 11 years I spent preparing it.
See, nobody sees the background, the errant thoughts, the distractions, or the weight of carrying a story around in your head through your daily life or when you're at your lowest. They just see the final product. And, if you were to record yourself actually writing the book, it would be very boring. Writing is an internal solitary task. But creating these characters, forming their stories and even having room for crossover characters is one of the biggest joys of my life.
As it stands, it is currently 41,821 words. According to Amazon, that's roughly 183 pages on kindle. There are 37 chapters to the book so far but I think it will be 45 chapters at the end and just over the 50,000 word mark. Most crime novels are 50k and for a good reason; they are written succinctly. It seems like there are no wasted words.
I've been posting my updates on Twitter quite frequently. I just get so excited about the process of storytelling, I had to tell someone. Had to get it out there.
Well, I said that I would get back to the crime fiction book. Every time I see a blank page is effin terrifying. pic.twitter.com/nXxHCMUTYp— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) March 9, 2016
#PickpocketFrankie Update: at 38,000 words now. A chase scene ensued. Frankie is at his lowest.— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) April 10, 2016
#PickpocketFrankie Update: I've learned so much about New York in the past year, I feel like I've been there already.— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) April 10, 2016
#PickpocketFrankie Update: Hard to imagine that I've been tinkering with this idea on and off since 2005.— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) April 10, 2016
#PickpocketFrankie Update: Oh snap! I just realized that two of my novels are connected by one character. This. Changes. Everything.— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) April 15, 2016
And on July 4th, maybe even a little bit earlier than that, Pickpocket Frankie will make its debut on Kindle. Am I nervous? Of course. But that's beside the point. Even if no one reads it, I'll still be happy. Because extracting this story out of my brain felt great.
Like I said, short stories are easy. In terms of setup, plot and execution, you can accomplish that in 10 to 20 pages and find a way to end it. But novels are a different breed. For me, the beginning is always the easiest. The ending is something hidden away that you have to be patient for. And the middle is the sagging, droopy mess you have to figure out. To hold a readers attention consistently without breaking the tone is a herculean task. It also involved me having to admit to myself that I couldn't write the next chapter because I needed to grow as a writer. I needed to read more. I needed to let my ideas develop on their own. I needed my characters to speak for me.
Frankie's been with me a long time. On the outside, he's a wise-ass with daddy issues. But he surprised me with his resourcefulness, his optimistic wit and his willingness to tell me, point blank, "No, Roberto, I wouldn't do that in the story. Move over. Let me drive for a while."
And so now, I humbly as you to Pre-order a copy of Pickpocket Frankie today. And don't forget to share on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. And I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.
And, as always, keep writing.
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