Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How many books should you write?

My personal limit is: as many as I can.

The more books we write, the more we’ll improve as writers and the more horses we’ll have in the race. Agatha Christie wrote 86 novels. Isaac Asimov wrote or edited over 500 books. I’ve got a while to go before I hit those kinds of numbers, but I’m writing as fast as I can (the Page-a-Day Club at Absolute Write helps in that regard). Future projects include:

• Sub-urban fantasy: part of a modern city transported to a hellish fantasy world
• Pizarro’s revenge: the conquistadores are human, the natives most definitely aren’t, and there’s gunpowder. I love it when things get blowed up real good
• Epic fantasy: I want to try this with Redemption. I’ve recently read started Stephen Erickson’s Deadhouse Gates, and it’s quite inspiring in this regard

There are one-book wonders, of course. Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee come to mind, but writers like this are the exception to the rule. There are too many writers who finish one book, try to get it published, fail and stop writing. Or (which seems equally common these days) get it published by some amateur micropress or vanity publisher and then spend years trying to get it shelved and sold, rather than continuing to work at the craft.

Writers need to write, and keep writing, no matter what else they do and no matter what happens to the first book. You can never run out of stories; the more you tell, the more come to mind, and if you’re tired of one series or genre, well, who’s to say you can’t try another? One of the perks of not being famous, after all!

So let’s keep writing.


GunnerJ said...

How do you avoid getting so interested in these other, new ideas that you lose interest in your current project? That's something that happens to me pretty often.

Marian said...

Good question, and I'm going to do another post on it.

By the way, don't you have some writing to do as well. Hint, hint, chapter 2. :)

GutsyWriter said...

My problem is I love memoirs and am rewriting mine before re-submitting to my editor. Hopefully this will be the final version. So my question is, although I have many ideas for articles, my favorite writing is about living in a foreign country and adapting to life. That requires me to move and live for at least a year, in order to get enough material to write about. I have kids, and there's a limit to how many times you can do this, especially with teenagers.