Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's All Relative

By Lisabet Sarai

A few days ago I put together my monthly newsletter. I normally have a section entitled "New and Upcoming Releases". I began the July version with an apology. "No new releases this month..." As I wrote that sentence, my spirits plummeted. Why was I even bothering with a newsletter, given the small number of books I produce on an annual basis?

My primary publisher these days is Total-E-Bound. They release an amazing six titles per week. (It's especially amazing because they seem to be keeping the quality high even with this level of volume.) Every Monday the CEO announces the week's authors and offers congratulations. And there are some authors whose names appear on that list again and again - week after week, month after month.

Measured against that level of productivity, my own publishing output looks pitiful. There's one TEB author who started publishing right around the time that TEB opened its doors four years ago. A few months ago, she celebrated the publication of her one hundredth book. Another romance author I like just marked fifty books published. And me? Well, you could count my major works on the fingers of two hands.

It's true that these women both write full time, whereas I'm lucky to get in one full day of writing per week. Also, most of these books are novella-length, in the 20-40 K word range. Still, it's sometimes difficult to avoid feeling inadequate.

When I get that sinking feeling, it's time for me to take a look at my publications history, which I try to update whenever I do my newsletter. (I didn't this month, though. I was feeling too depressed, and I really didn't have anything to add other than my monthly review at Erotica Revealed.) I don't publish something every month, but if you count short stories in anthologies, I probably average a least one publication every other month. Furthermore, I have to give myself credit - I haven't given up. My history stretches over twelve years, and I'm still writing and publishing - more frequently now, actually, then a few years ago.

I'm working now on a new novel, and it's taking what seems like forever, but I should cut myself some slack. Quarantine is science fiction, and that requires considerably more thought and effort than the contemporary stuff I've most written previously. Meanwhile, I do have a few pubs in the pipeline, a blues-themed ménage coming in a September anthology and a 15K stand-alone paranormal short due out in November.

I'm trying to convince myself that it is all relative, that making comparisons is just a waste of mental energy. I know that Garce, who mooted this week's topic, considers me to be very prolific, compared to his own output. I respond by telling him that his work is deeper, more creative and more original than mine, and thus that it requires more time and energy. But that's just comparing again, and in truth, comparing his writing methods to mine (not to mention the results) is like comparing apples to oranges.

At the best of times, I can write four or five thousand words a day. At the worst of times...well, I'd rather not talk about those times. I wrote my 8K Coming Together Taboo title, A Breed Apart, in about six hours. It was almost easy - possibly because I wasn't worrying about satisfying anyone but myself.

By some people's standards, I'm prolific. Others might consider me to be a lazy dilettante who can't publish enough to support a dedicated coterie of readers (though my tendency to experiment with multiple genres is also a factor here).

I guess what I'm saying is that the question Garce has asked may be meaningless. Prolific according to whom? To be honest, I don't want to think about it. I just want to write, without any concern about who will buy my stories. That's much more fun.

5 comments:

  1. Hear, hear.

    I wrestle with questions of my productivity from time to time (especially times like now, when I'm doing a so much editing and very little new stuff,) and find that the voice behind these doubts has never really served me in any positive way.

    The great joy in being a writer is crafting stories, and loving the stories we create.

    The quantity is not important.

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  2. hi Lisabet!

    I suppose it is a somewhat meaningless question, unless of courswe we're writing full time, in which case its a matter of life and death. Let's face it, not that many people can make this work full time without burning out.

    But yeah, compared to me you're prolific as hell. So I'm curious to find out how people do it. Do they write everyday, or once a week or what?

    Garce

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  3. hi Lisabet!

    I suppose it is a somewhat meaningless question, unless of courswe we're writing full time, in which case its a matter of life and death. Let's face it, not that many people can make this work full time without burning out.

    But yeah, compared to me you're prolific as hell. So I'm curious to find out how people do it. Do they write everyday, or once a week or what?

    Garce

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  4. I have a double-edged feeling about 'prolific'. On the one hand I'd like to have loads of stuff out that generates an income. On the other I know I can't do that if I'm trying to be original rather than just re-hashing old plots. Being prolific isn't everything.

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  5. Hello,all,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Just turn off the voice in the head. That's the only way to get by.

    And Garce, there is no one way to do it. Some people write in spurts. Some do the time, every day.

    Whatever works.

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