As much as I claim not to be reactionary, more often than not I end up eating my own words. I’d say I do not like to be reactionary, but truth be told, there’s a small part of me that takes some twisted pleasure in arguing or venting or blowing off steam. Come on, we all do, on some level. I think I’d be more concerned with those who don’t vent some of that frustration. AND, to make a long point even longer than it needs to be to justify this post, isn’t that the objective of writing/blogging, to vent , to talk, to discuss?
What’s got me miffed?
Yesterday, I read an article published by Huffpo, Huffpuff, Huffpost, or whatever the name is, regarding how indie writers should stop publishing 4 books a year. I think the article is a few years old, published back in 2015, and seeing how the book world is really measured in dog years, I wonder if the author of said piece still feels the same way. I mean, is it even a valid argument, to tell indie writers NOT to publish a mass of books?
If you want to read the Huffpo argument…..[here]
I think the spirit of the article was really…though narrow minded, way of trying to get readers/writers to focus more on quality than quantity. In that respect, I absolutely, 100% agree. I have seen the fall of a few authors and small presses whose focus seemed to be almost exclusively on quantity rather than quality. Why put out a crap story just to put out a crap story? Right? Even if your name sounds very similar to Stephen King (wink wink).
But there’s an assumption being made here. That is, good work, as mentioned in the Huff article, so called “classics” of literary fiction, can ONLY be achieved through diligent, tedious, time consuming research, vetting, editing, etc. etc., that spans over months, YEARS, god help them even DECADES! The article sited work such as Goldfinch and To Kill a Mocking Bird as books that took decades to finish. Ignoring, of course, all the many other literary classics that were completed in a shorter span of time, such as A Clockwork Orange, A Christmas Carol, or The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas (to name a few) that were written in weeks or even days.
My point being, why do you have to spend year after painful year crafting and honing that PERFECT book? I’ll make a statement that may or may not be popular, but its an honest one, and its mine. That PERFECT book, the one writers have been nibbling and deleting and redoing and shaping, guess what? It doesn’t exist. Though i’m sure i can be proven wrong, in a majority of cases these books are nothing more than pet projects. They’re not books, not really.
But you know what? Its okay. Pet projects are good, i think. I’ve got one, haven’t touched it in a while, but had spent years crafting it, knowing in the back of my head that it would never be published. Nor do i think i would want to. It had become too precious for me to allow it to be picked at and prodded by reviewers and critics.
Me on Writing?
I’m no expert. These are just my opinions in my thus short career as a writer. What I think is something similar to Aristotle’s advice to his son regarding the Golden Mean, writers would do well to avoid extreme polar sentiments. On one hand, never sacrifice quantity over quality. That said, never assume quality is restricted to a set standard of time. Some writers are simply prolific. They have a natural talent at storytelling and can pump out book after book like it was nothing. And there’s probably an even more sinister assumption that just because they are able to publish more than one book a century, they are not working as hard. I’d say prolific writers work just as hard, truth be told. And yes, those writers who require more time, or prefer more time, are just fine too. At bottom, you gotta do you. In either case, writers shouldn’t be aiming to be the next great literary master. Odds are, its never going to happen. And most of the writers who are considered to be great award winning masters of lit were never trying to be. They just wanted to tell a story, and if that is your goal and focus, does it really matter if it takes you one week or one year to write it?
Just some thoughts from young writer.