Mark Terry

Friday, September 15, 2006

Makes Me Breathless

September 15, 2006
I popped on over to James Reasoner's blog today, and in the first paragraph he notes:

"I wrapped it up late yesterday afternoon, my 195th novel. I've already started thinking about #200."

195 novels. Published.

Reasoner writes a lot of category westerns, etc., but this level of productivity is kind of staggering. Well, not "kind of." It's just plain staggering.

I'm a fast writer, and I suppose if my career turned that way, I could probably write 11 or 12 novels a year, especially if they were fairly short. So in 20 years of that pace I guess I could produce around 200 novels. (This is not, actually, a pace or type of writing career I aspire to).

I'd be pretty happy writing 2 or 3 novels a year and maybe a screenplay. (Actually, I'm pretty happy now, writing 1 or 2 a year and 150+ articles, etc). In my "ideal dream" writing career I've written one or two novels a year, possibly one as a series and the other as stand-alones, plus dabbling in scriptwriting. Of course, that's my "dream" career. Bestsellerdom is probably a part of that, although maybe not. There are authors whose careers I envy a great deal.

Robert B. Parker. Although he's currently doing three series, he's had his fair share of stand-alones, and he's written a lot of scripts for TV shows, most based on his own books, but not all. I see his list of books and can't help but turn green with envy.

Stephen King. Well, I don't think I'd want the notoriety or the face recognition, but King's had a pretty astonishing career. 3 or 4 books a year, movie scripts, TV scripts, short stories.

Ed McBain. I'm not sure if McBain ever really hit the bestseller lists, but he's another one where I look at his list of published novels and think, "Now THAT'S a career." And of course, he wrote under pseudonyms and wrote screenplays and plays, too.

It occurs to me that when you come down to it, what I would like from my writing career is probably what most authors want, really. A good chunk of money and the freedom to write a mix of things in different formats. One gets the feeling that Parker's a little bored of Spenser and is investing more of himself in the Jesse Stone novels, but still, he cranks out an occasional western or stand-alone, and still does meetings regarding scripts.

Still, back to James Reasoner. 195 novels?

Mark Terry


Blogger Ron said...

Holy Isaac Asimov! I wonder if he ever reads a novel, sees the author's name on the cover, and realizes he wrote it.

He can title the next one "I don't remember writing this."

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

195 novels. That doesn't make me feel breathless -- more like I'm having a massive coronary. I write slowly. Given my current work situation I can barely manage my half of a novel every year. The only real problem with that is all the very different ideas I'd like to try, but don't have the time for.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took me over four years to write my last novel (which my agent is currently shopping). I'm in deep doo-doo.

2:56 PM  
Blogger r2 said...

Nora Roberts/JD Robb ain't no slouch either.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Rob Gregory Browne said...

Debra Webb, whom I met at Thrillerfest, has written over 50 books since, I believe, the year 2000. All published, of course.

I've always marveled at the ability to write with such speed AND quality. And I know I could never do it.

One or two books a year for me. Probably one. So I suppose my only real chance at success in this field is to become a bestseller... :)

4:24 AM  

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