Archives for 16 September 2015

This day in scribblery: September 16

Another piece that may be of interest to at least 0.9 of my 3.6 Loyal Readers. This first appeared on LiveJournal on this day in 2006:

Genesis 3: Reality, responsibility, and The Eye of the Maker


In other news, last night I returned from a three-day excursion to the interior of British Columbia. I saw many old familiar sights, and some old forgotten ones, and a few new ones, and one desultory forest fire, and met some new people (whom I shall, in all probability, never see again); and I return somewhat refreshed. I make a note of this for my own purposes, since this blog is the closest thing I keep to a journal, and otherwise I may wish to recollect some aspect of this trip and not be able to remember when I made it.

It’s not ALL about the seat of the chair

Now that our Evil Alter Blogger has had his say about those who sneer at prolific writers, I figure it’s time for me to say something on the matter in propria persona. Herewith, I reproduce a comment I made over at the Passive Voice, which the gracious Carbonel thought well of.

One Scath muses aloud:

I’ve been earning a living as a writer releasing 2 books per year. Wonder what will happen if I up that to 4 per year?

I respond:

Either (a) you will more than double your income, because you are attracting more readers and have twice as many products to sell to each one; or (b) your income per book will suffer because you are rushing yourself to meet an arbitrary production schedule, and not giving the ideas long enough to cook. Or some combination of the two effects. It depends entirely on you and your internal process.

Like most writers I know, I find that the process of coming up with good story ideas is not one that happens solely whilst one is applying the seat of the trousers to the seat of the chair. I can usually come up with enough stuff in twenty-four hours to keep me busy at the keyboard for four or five hours writing it down. I find that if I force myself to spend more hours at the keyboard, I often end up forcing out rubbish just to fill up the time.

Of course everyone’s mileage differs; but that ought to be the real lesson – everyone’s mileage differs. There is nothing inherently wrong with having the fixings in your mind to make one decent book per month, or one per quarter, or one per year, or one per lifetime. (Very few of us can manage one per month. That much time at the keyboard leaves very little time for having enough of a life to feed a fluent stream of new ideas.) The only thing that is unequivocally wrong is trying to base your schedule on someone else’s idea of how much you should write.

If Patty Pretentious says you should write only one book every ten years and it will be a literary masterpiece, she’s almost certainly wrong. If Harry Hackworthy says you should crank out a book every two weeks, just as fast as your fingers can type the words, he is almost certainly wrong. If Sammy Statistics says you should write 1.21 books per year because that is the aurea mediocritas at which the average Great Writer writes the average Great Book, he is almost certainly wrong. Writers, especially great ones, cannot be aggregated in that way.

There’s a reason why Polonius did not say, ‘To the Huffington Post’s own self be true.’ Or even, ‘To thy critique group’s own self be true.’