Monday, November 24, 2008

Prolific and Productive

Wondering around a small, dust-filled used bookstore in a tiny NorCal town, I stumbled upon a substantial collection of books by the British author, John Creasey. This guy wrote books...tons of books...around 600 books with over 20 pseudonyms! His mystery-thrillers have been turned into movies and television series and just about anything else you can turn a book into. I’d never heard of him.

Anyway, I'm reading this article pasted on the wall next to a section dedicated to his works and I’m thinking to myself, "Self, this guy's pretty damn successful. Maybe I should pick up one of his books and give it a try. Maybe he’ll rub off on me." Not one to ignore those inner conversations, I acted accordingly and purchased my first John Creasey novel, A Shadow of Death.

If you're hoping for a review of the novel, then you’ll have to wait. I just started it last night – I read the first two chapters. However, in finishing this initial read I believe that he knows what he’s doing. I must admit, I’m a little surprised. Part of me thought a guy who wrote this many books probably sacrificed quality in the process. I’m not saying he’s Shakespeare…for that matter, Shakespeare may not even be Shakespeare. And, I’m sure John doesn’t need my affirmation or input or feedback or critique because he’s more successful than Hanna Montana…also, he’s been dead for 35 years.

So what makes a person that prolific and productive? How can any single man or woman possibly produce around 600 novels in only one lifetime? I have written one complete novel, The Father’s Child. It took several years working part-time to finish it. I have submitted queries to many agents looking for representation and that’s time-consuming as well. By the way, if you know a good agent, please send her/him my way.

I believe that finishing ONE full-length novel is a significant accomplishment – I’m proud of myself. Seriously! I mean it! Creating a new world, at least in part, and creating new characters, at least in part, and creating a new story, at least in part, and putting that all together in 80,000 words hopefully in such a way that it might not only make sense but even interest another person to the point where they would one day spend $25 for it, is pretty damn impressive. I do enjoy it, so it’s not like I’m digging ditches. But considering the fact that no one asked me to do it, no one paid me to do it, no one promised me anything regarding success or notoriety or even a pat on the back, I think it took a lot of intestinal fortitude (no, that is not a digestive disorder) to produce something that only a few people may enjoy.

On top of all that, I’m planning on doing it again. However, not too long ago, in the midst of one of my many no-one-gives-a-shit pitty parties, I’d considered, for a brief moment, giving it up. Okay, it was probably only a tantrum-induced delirium cutting off the oxygen from my brain. A day or two later I stumbled into that wonderful, narrow-isled, jam-packed with pages, maze of a bookstore and discovered the 3x4 article pasted on the wall about John Creasey.

I don’t in anyway consider myself an expert on him or his motivations or his reasons for success (that never stopped before from forming opinions on anything). It did occur to me that a guy (or girl) who writes 600 books, give or take a few, writes…a lot. Not only did he write, a lot, but I can’t imagine him getting over-infatuated with any particular work or project. How could he have? He didn’t have time to think about or obsess over any one character, storyline, setting, or agent rejection (he had over 700 of those) until he had sucked the life out of it (unless he was working on a vampire novel). He was too busy, writing, and writing, and writing…

He obviously believed the old writer’s adage - Writers Write. Reading his bio kicked me in the butt. I mean, come on! If he can write 600 books, then certainly I can pen at least a few. Think about it. If I’m ONE SINGLE PERCENT as prolific and productive as John Creasey, then I have 6 books in me. Obviously, this discussion easily extends to any other profession or lifework - do with it what you will. For me the message is clear: I need to write more.

The desire to keep my head exercised in the writing way begat this blog. It’s not a novel, but its baby steps in the right direction. If he can write 600 novels, I can do this. I will do this. Thanks John for some perspective.


Rachelle said...

You can do it, Mark. And for what it's worth, I believe finishing that first novel IS a significant accomplishment. The first one is such a big hurdle to overcome. Congratulations... be sure to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. And keep writing!

Mark Adair said...

Thanks Rachelle...always the encouraging one. Cheers.