Catcher in the rye

6 Popular Books That Took Over 10 Years to Write

If you’re a writer out there then you know it can take time to finish a work of art. Whether its a short story or an epic novel, a lot of time and thought goes into finishing a story. I recently wrote an article about 12 challenging books readers struggle to finish and while researching it I learned that it took James Joyce 17 years to finish Finnegans Wake. I repeat 17 years. While that figure seemed shocking, it certainly wasn’t the only story that took a long time to see daylight. Here are 6 popular books that took at least ten years to write:

 

 

 

1. Finnegans Wake  by James Joyce

– 17 years

 

 

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When he wasn’t writing naughty love letters to his wife Nora or reeling from the success of Ulysses, James Joyce completed Finnegans Wake over the course of 17 years while in Paris, only two years before his death. Given the novels complexity, intricate language, and use of allusions, its no wonder it took the author a long time to write it. Joyce allegedly predicted that it would take readers an equal amount of time to read it and it looks like he was right, as the novels length and complexity make it one of the books readers struggle with finishing the most.

 

 

 

2. The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

– 12 to 17 years

 

 

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Though the actual figure has been debated, it’s generally accepted that it took Tolkien at least 12 years to finish his iconic trilogy. Tolkien worked on the series in varying degrees between 1937 and 1949 while also working as a professor at Pembroke college. Though it took ages to see publication, the time was clearly worth it as its success has shown.

 

 

3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

– 12 to17 years

 

 

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Since so much time has passed since Les Miserables was published, there is some debate as to whether it took 12 or 17 years to complete but either way, it took a long time. Hugo reportedly began working on the historical novel in 1845 but was forced to put it aside due to political tension and exile for a time until he was able to continue working on it and it was eventually published in 1862.

 

 

 

4. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

– 10 Years

 

 

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This iconic American classic was written while Mitchell was recovering from an ankle injury and, interestingly enough, she never actually intended on publishing it. After a friend allegedly said something along the lines of “Imagine, you writing a book!” Mitchell decided to publish it after all and I’m sure her friend regretted saying anything in the first place.

 

 

5. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

10 Years

 

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Though The Catcher in the Rye is Salinger’s only novel, and fairly short, it took the author 10 years between the time he started writing it and the time it was published. The novel has gone on to become one of the most read and banned novels of all time. Though it’s been successful, Salinger reportedly struggled with the criticism it received soon after it was published and spent his lifetime regretting having written it.

 

 

 

6. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

– 10 Years

 

 

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After spending five years working on this novel daily, Diaz apparently suffered from writers block and put the novel on the back burner until he returned and spent another five years finishing it.

 

 

 

Feature Image Via Literary Hub