Earlier in the week, I attended a reading by Mary Helen Specht, author of Migratory Animals, at The Writing Barn in Austin, TX. It’s a lovely writers’ retreat and learning center—a slice of the country carved out in the heart of South Austin. I had a chance to speak with Ms. Specht one-on-one, so I asked her how long it took to write her debut literary novel Migratory Animals. I was taken aback—5 years. It took her 5 years and many, many drafts before it was “done.” But then I realized it took me 5 years to write my debut novel, You’ll Be Thinking of Me. She has an MFA; I don’t. She was a Fulbright Scholar; I am not. She has published short stories in literary magazines; I have not. Her novel is literary; mine is romantic suspense. What’s my point? The investment of time was the same and I would venture a guess that the emotional investment was as well. Only the end results are vastly different. However, I can appreciate them both for the time and effort that went into their creation and I can only hope that you, as readers, do too.