In today’s Journal
* Well, my mind
* Topic: In Defense of Being a Prolific Writer
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Well, my mind is apparently going. (grin)
Spurred-on by a series of comments I read elsewhere, I wrote a really long essay a week or so ago. It was too long for a single topic, so I decided to break it into a few separate topics.
For today, I was all set to put up a topic titled “An Ugly, Two-Sided Coin.” Then I realized I’d posted much of the content of that one in “I Am Constantly Amazed (Amused?)”.
So I’ll save “An Ugly, Two-Sided Coin” for the big blog over at HarveyStanbrough.com. Today, instead, I’ll draw the final topic from the essay and post it here.
Topic: In Defense of Being a Prolific Writer
I’m bone weary of people who take little sideways slaps at “prolific” writers who “turn out a book every two months.” Such people often say they could never turn out a novel in only 2 months and “be happy” with what they’d written. Their writing is just that special, I guess. (shrug)
Well, to each his own, but what really matters is how happy READERS are with what you’ve written. Isn’t it? Your story is nothing more than a few minutes’ or hours’ entertainment. That is the limit of its importance. However, I’ll leave that for now.
For the record, the longest it’s taken me personally to write a novel was 32 consecutive writing days, and the shortest time was 15 days, during which I wrote a 50,000 word novel. Most of the time I finish a novel in 21 to 28 days. If it runs much longer than that, I get bored.
As an aside, that’s the same reason I don’t outline or otherwise “direct” my characters. Why bother to write a story when I already know the plot, the twists and turns, and the ending?
Other, far more prolific writers than I have churned out a well-selling novel in only 7 days, or 14. The masterful genre writer Michael Moorcock has written a novel in as few as 3 days. It all comes down to dedication to craft and trust in one’s own abilities.
But I should pause here to define “prolific.” By today’s standards, even if a writer turns out a novel every six months, that writer is considered prolific. Even in today’s world in which there are no barriers between the writer and the reading public.
What really gets my goat is when these same detractors note that they write to sell books, not merely as an exercise in self-satisfaction. I talked a bit about this in “Pro, Hobbyist, or …?” (see link above).
The point is, the one thing has nothing to do with the other. The writer’s stimulus for writing has no bearing on how prolific he is (or is not). The difference is in what he does with what he’s written.
The professional publishes what he writes, period. The amateur doesn’t. But both can write for self-satisfaction.
A larger difference, and one more significant to my mind, between the professional and the amateur is that the former believes in his ability as a storyteller and the latter doesn’t.
I freely admit that I write fiction because I very much enjoy writing fiction. I think it’s an absolute hoot to be the first person in the history of the world to see a particular story told by particular characters in a particular way. Therefore I write first and foremost for my own satisfaction.
But I also write for publication. I don’t write for readers. I write for me. I publish for readers. I allow nobody else into my solitary process, and I publish what I write so readers can judge for themselves.
Detractors also often use blanket statements, such as “If no readers are reading your work, you’re only a hobbyist.” In other words, you’ve failed.
I have to agree with that. But the only way for any writer to guarantee no readers and no sales is to act as his own “gatekeeper” and not publish what he writes. At which point, of course, his writing is only a hobby no matter what he chooses to call it.
And at which point he’s haughtily pre-judging his work, not only for himself but for all other potential readers everywhere. I know what I like, but I’m just not smart enough, I guess, to decide in advance what some other reader will or won’t enjoy. Nor do I care to try.
I’m only a writer and publisher. My job is to tell entertaining stories and make them available to others. Period. It’s up to those folks to determine what they like or don’t like.
Anytime I hear a writer say that something he wrote isn’t good enough to publish, I smile and say, “Y’know, you’re probably right” instead of what I want to say, which is “How dare you pre-judge your work on behalf of dozens or hundreds or even thousands of readers?”
Readers are only consumers, folks. I’ll never sell to ALL readers, and I’m okay with that. But a lack of a certain number of readers won’t suddenly make my profession a hobby. For anything that is published, there will always be at least a certain and growing number of readers, and probably many more than the author expects.
Finally, my own writing certainly isn’t a hobby simply because I can (and do) write a novel in two months or less. To intimate otherwise is nothing short of pretentious.
Today I’ll work on my WIP. Though this one has lagged-on far too long at 105 calendar days, today will make only the 17th writing day. Go figure. I plan to finish (and publish) it before this weekend, when I will be happily camping somewhere along the Gila River. I’ll start reporting daily fiction numbers again tomorrow.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Self-Publishing is the Best Solution to Low Author Earnings” at https://selfpublishingadvice.org/solution-to-low-author-earnings/.
See “How to Read a Book Contract – Somebody’s Gonna Die” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/how-to-read-a-book-contract-somebodys-gonna-die-2/.
See “How to Read a Book Contract – Agency Coupled with an Interest” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/how-to-read-a-book-contract-agency-coupled-with-an-interest-2/.
See “Get It Out There” at https://prowriterswriting.com/get-it-out-there/.
Fiction words today…………………… 0
Nonfiction words today…………… 1070
Total fiction words for the month……… 1338
Total fiction words for the year………… 381569
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8160
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 270850
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 652419
Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 2
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 195
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31