Thursday, August 29, 2013

On Slowing It Down...

Whenever I'm working on my writing these days, I feel an over-riding sense of pressure lurking all about me to speed up my output.  I feel that I must crank out the words and the chapters and the books as fast as possible.  This is a result of the current reality, in which those self-published authors who are able to actually make a living from their writing are the ones who are the most prolific.

On the writers' forums I come across other authors who put out new novels every three months, or sometimes every two months, or in one case a writer who puts out a new book every three weeks, back to back to back, fifteen novels in a year.  I find this to be completely astonishing.  A new book every three weeks?  I wonder how much thought could possibly go into a book that is churned out so quickly.

All I know for sure is that I am not that type of writer.  I am the type who obsesses over every word and paragraph, going back to polish my work again and again.  I am considerably slower and more measured in my approach, typically taking a year or more to write an edit a new book.

This leaves me wondering if I have what it takes to make it as a self-published writer at all.  Can I possibly increase my output enough to make a go of it?  It is likely that I'd be better off in a traditional publishing arrangement with the marketing muscle of a publishing company behind me, but until those offers start coming in it is simply not an option.

What all of this does make me think about from time to time is a letter written in 1946 by the Italian novelist Italo Calvino.  He wrote to his friend and fellow author Silvio Micheli:

“I know you get through tons of writing a day, that you write novels with plots, with incest-plots, crime-plots, hot novels, lukewarm novels, novels with hot and cold running water. This fills me with envy because I’m still here just wasting time.
…I’ve started a novel too: I wrote four pages in a week. Weeks go by in which I can’t even add a comma, whole days are spent wondering whether in that sentence going up is better than ascending.”

 So perhaps this is not such a new phenomenon after all.  Pulp fiction of the 1940's shares some commonalities with the self-published novels of today.  Hopefully there is still room for an author like Calvino, who must take his time.  If not, well perhaps I can turn it up a notch.  The pressure is unrelenting either way.  As for Calvino himself, if he were still alive I'd have to tell him, ascending all the way!

No comments:

Post a Comment