…are awful. It’s an interesting accusation. I have a different take on this. Especially since I’m in the high production category.
Some of us are just terribly prolific, sometimes to our own detriment. If you actually knew just how much I wrote (not including these constant blog posts) you’d probably be amazed and ask me when I sleep (I don’t). You have to remember that while I’m married, I have no kids. I’m also somewhat misanthropic and anti-social so my social life exists a few times a year when I agree to go out with friends or meet for spiritual activities etc… The bulk of my socializing happens online just because other people’s energy can be exhausting and I don’t tolerate it well.
Now this doesn’t mean I’m always working on what I should be working on (this accounts for those posts you see where I’m telling everyone how I’m not writing and am being lazy – which usually means I’m not writing what I should be writing). I also guarantee you the bulk of my writing will never see the light of day.
Is all of my published work awesome? Probably not. Will I go down in literary history? Again, probably not. But a girl’s gotta eat. Quite frankly I think my work is pretty decent for what it is. It may not be great literature of the twenty-first century, but really – is (for example) Harry Potter? I mean, J.K. Rowling is an average writer. I don’t see anything spectacular about her craft. But her characters and the stories are fun, universal and have a wide appeal. I damn well bet you Harry Potter goes down in literary history. This ties back into the post I wrote the other day about literary fiction.
So anyway, I was reading a blog by an agent who said that the modern “Faster Pussycat” writing model is destroying the literary world. Where authors, if they want to make a living, have had to sacrifice quality to get more books out there. She was talking about writers taking their time because her theory is all good fiction takes time. Not to mention she believes writers should be proud of their work and the only way to do that is to take one’s time with it. Give it time for proper revision. Give it time for aging and refining. While I don’t disagree with her (revision is a wonderful thing!) – I do disagree with her idea of time. By time – she means that a writer should take more than a year to write every book.
Sorry – but that’s bullshit. Different writers can work at different speeds. What takes one author years to do – another can do in six months. If you have a day job – you’re not going to get as much done. If you don’t have a day job + no obligations to children etc… – you might get three times as much done. Different individual writers have different circumstances that either increase or hamper productivity. Granted good writing and craft are necessities regardless (and even that’s subjective to readers) but the books that my readers actually like the most aren’t necessarily the ones I put the most time and effort into. Imagine that. It’s true.
Left Horse Black was meticulously crafted for years (revised, painfully so, about fifteen times) before it finally got published. It’s a pretty piece of prose to be sure. Full of literary metaphor and poignant political commentary that only the literary elite might pick up on. But it also only sells between 10- 20 copies a month (at the low-low price of $1.99 in eBook). On the flip-side of that, Training Amy, which is shorter than LHB, took me a month to write, about three months to revise, and was put out the month after that and it sells (in a slow month) 800+ copies a month at $2.99.
“But all writers want to be famous and they won’t be unless they take 1+ years to write every book,” the agent argues. I don’t know about fame. Having an audience for your work is great. But I never started writing or got into writing because I thought I’d become famous. Ha! I never had dreams of writing the great American novel. No – I write because I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always wanted to write books like those I love reading. Sorry to say – but literary fiction isn’t it, folks! I want stories with monsters, ghosts, Daemons, magick, political adversaries, and compromising situations that explore the taboo and macabre. I want SEX and violence and rampant expletives! My mind is constantly generating stories like this. I have an overactive imagination and can find stories in the most innocuous things! It’s how I’m wired.
“But Steph, readers won’t be placing your books on their permanent bookshelves. Your books will be given away or left in boxes in the garage!” (That was the agent’s argument.) Again, I disagree. I’ve actually had numerous readers tell me they read Training Amy multiple times and felt that I really understood them and connected with them. The book touched them. So much that I have readers waiting with baited breath for the next book. Left Horse Black has never generated that kind of reader response despite scores of wonderful reviews and readers who enjoyed the story enough to buy the second book in the series (which amounts to about half).
So based on my personal experience who am I to believe? The agent who says I should only write one novel every two years (like I did with Left Horse Black and the whole Sorcerers’ Twilight Series)? Or the thousands of readers who loved Training Amy and catapulted it into the top 100 romance novels on Amazon for a month? ::shrug::
As an aside – if you were to ask me at this moment which of my novels I think is my best work, I’d tell you Outer Darkness. It took me a month to write and five months to revise.
I think I’ll listen to my readers, thanks. Sorry agent lady. I think perhaps you’re out of touch and don’t understand writers or why they write as much as you think you do. Either that or you’re hanging out with some shallow writers who probably suck because they’re writing for the money and not the stories. And clearly you don’t know what readers want either. The bulk of readers don’t want The Great Gatsby. They want books like Harry Potter, Twilight, and books like Training Amy. That’s what I want as a reader, it’s what I want to write, and that’s what my readers want to read! (And I’m pretty sure the readers who love my stories don’t give two craps about how long it took me to write them.)
Just sayin’. 🙂