A couple of weeks ago I wrote Bullies and Soggy Soup Bones, a three-thousand-word short story about finding courage in the unlikeliest of places. I wrote it in a day from initial idea to complete semi-final draft. Now, it’s not even remotely publishable and requires some fleshing out and maybe more showing and less telling, but the point is: I surprised myself. The narrative flowed nice enough and had a sweet message and was a complete story, and I did it in a day. There are those writers who are able to write much more than that in a single day. But I’m not one of them. Being able to write this story so quickly inspired me. You see, instead of slowly writing the story I let go of it. I opened the flood gates and allowed the story to flow easily and unrestrained to where it wanted to go. It was exhilarating.
Yet, I found myself wondering, why do I write so slow the things I want to publish? Just creating the updated plot description for the new book is taking long enough (In all fairness, my writing time has been severely curtailed). I want to make sure every word fits and moves in harmony with the theme and mood of the story–even if it is just the description. A good plot description has the power to entice and enthrall. A bad one kills. I want people to love the new book and the first step is to get them interested and so I question my decisions and because I do it so often, I must wait until my emotions settle and I can see clearly whether my objections had any merit. This is an ongoing process generally that only really ends when the editor had a run through the script and you’ve had a chance to fix the things that can be fixed and it is about to be published. By then you’ve made peace with the story.
Which brings me to today’s post. iO9 posted another awesome article and this time it talks about the pulp-era authors of science fiction and fantasy and their prolific output. There are a few modern-day authors on the list as well. Given my own slow pace and general thoughts on the matter, I thought this a wonderful reminder of what is doable if you put your mind to it. The question of quality doesn’t apply here and is a debatable issue for another time. The article created a surge in my writing urge and I’m sure for those of you interested in things like this, it will do too. Plus, it is just really cool to read about other authors. I get curious and I wonder about the writing habits and routines of these writers. I like to imagine the stereotype: a writer sitting in a smoke-hazed office typing maniacally on a mechanical typewriter–the typebars sounding like rapid fire against the ribbon, a cigarette dangling from his lips, sleeves rolled up, and fedora pushed high on his forehead–totally impervious to the outside world.
I don’t think I’m that far off. Here are three of the authors the article mentions:
The Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe, an Anglican vicar, wrote for Badger Books during the 1950s and 60s under many pseudonyms, possibly more than 20 different names in total. Due to the sheer number of books under different names, which were sometimes being used by other authors for Badger Books at the same time, there is no complete bibliography. Collectors estimate that Fanthrope wrote over 180 books, 89 which were written during a 3 year period. On average he completed a book every 12 days.
Mercedes Lackey began publishing in 1987 with her book Arrows of the Queen. Since then she has published 142 books, an average of 5.5 books/year. Some 30 of those books are in in the Valdemar Saga, her best known works. Lackey is still publishing books, with at least two books scheduled to be published in 2014. She has collaborated on eight books, with co-authors including Eric Flint, Dave Freer, James Mallory, Rosemary Edghill, and others.
Walter B. Gibson, under the name Maxwell Grant, is credited with writing the pulp adventures of The Shadow during the 1930s and 40s. He wrote 282 of the 325 Shadow novels, often writing up to 10,000 words a day. He wrote on average 24 novels a year — because his contract stated that if he could write more than 24 novels in a year, the publisher would give him more assignments to fill his “slack time.” Gibson also wrote for the Biff Brewster series. In addition to his fiction work he was a practicing magician and wrote many books on magic and the occult. He was once featured in an advertisement for Corona typewriters (at left) that claimed he wrote an astounding 1,440,000 words in less than 10 months.
You can read the rest of the article here: 11 Most Prolific Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors of All Time.