A question for all you writers out there–published, unpublished, aspiring, would be, could be–whatever category you find yourself in. I want to include everyone and anyone.
I took a walk today and without any music, I had only my thoughts to accompany me. I started thinking about writing and how it has always been a dream of mine–and still is. In addition to scolding myself for not applying more time and discipline to my dream, I wondered about the following question:
Would you rather write one (and only one) great novel and be known for it, or would you rather have a bunch of lesser novels?
I realize that this is a rather silly question. All of us would like a slew of fantastic novels. Also, people do not intentionally write a slew of mediocre novels. I am sure when they submit them, they must think they are masterpieces. Outside of deadline pressure and other financial considerations, I would never accuse an author of “mailing it in”.
Maybe the question is rather:
Would you prefer to be remembered for one seminal novel, or a series of less popular/less influential/ less critically acclaimed novels?
I am unsure as to why this was cluttering up my brain. Perhaps it was thinking of the news surrounding the sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Maybe I was just preoccupied thinking about how my other blogs are failing to reach an audience. Maybe I was just feeling jealous of writers in general. Maybe I was just hungry. Who knows.
It is pretty easy to Google a list of authors who only published one book, or who only published one book in their lifetime. It is not as easy to search for authors whose whole body of work is eclipsed by one book.
The problem with writing one great book is that the pressure to repeat it would be intense. The author would want to do it as confirmation that the first time was no fluke. The publisher would want to keep that momentum (also known as the money train) going, and the fan would probably like to know what happened to those characters that became so important to them.
I hope I haven’t butchered this question too badly. I have a lot of thoughts on this rumbling around in my brain and I have to let some of them out. They are giving rise to many other peripheral questions about sequels and catching lightning in a bottle… but those will have to wait for another day.
Please feel free to share your thoughts.