By: Joelle Charbonneau
This week our very own Steve Weddle started a discussion about the trend in publishing where authors are being asked to produce more than one work in a year. Sometimes they are asked to create a short story to help promote a book. Often they are requested to up their production to two books or more. Steve did a great job of laying out the possible reasons for this in his post – here– even if he did tweak me a bit by saying I have 17 books hitting shelves in the next 2 years. (6 is more than enough!)
During the ensuing discussion, I saw more than on person comment that creating more than one book a year lowers the quality of an authors work. I have to admit that the certainty in which those comments were made gave me pause for a minute. I mean, I have 4 novels due to my publishers in the next year. The comments on Steve’s blog post made it sound as if I am selling out by writing that much or that my writing will suffer mightily from the commitment. Um…yikes.
Then I thought about the arguments and I went from feeling scared to being annoyed – not just at those comments, but the discussion on this issue I have seen across the internet. People say that writing fast means lowering the quality of the writing.
Just because something is created quickly doesn’t lower the value of the work. You know how I know this? Because some of the greatest art in history was created quickly and has not only lasted throughout the generations, but with each passing year is more revered.
Let’s look at music.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is considered to be one of the greatest composers that ever put pen to paper. He was 35 when he died. During his time on this earth he wrote over 600 works that are still being preformed today. In 1791 alone – the last year of his life – Mozart created over 60 works which included 2 operas, one of which was Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute), symphonies, choral music, concertos etc. I don’t think that anyone would claim his work suffered from speed.
And if you think Mozart was prolific, take a look at another luminary composer - J.S. Bach who lived to be 65. Part of his job as a church composer was to write a new cantata every week. He wrote 1126 works during his lifetime – that we know of. Who knows what works were lost to the passage of time and poor documentation. I guarantee you won’t hear people say they wish he’d written less.
The visual arts also have their share of prolific artists. Raphael Sanzio – who was better known by just his first name of Raphael – was only 37 years old when he died. During his short life, he completed at least 100 works that we know of. And as impressive as that sounds, Pablo Picasso has him beat by a mile. The total number of artworks created by Picasso is estimated to be around 50,000.
Am I saying that all writers should be prolific? NO! Am I saying that all the artwork that was created by Picasso or the music produced by Bach are at the very highest standard? Probably not.
But blanket statements saying that “all writing done quickly is crap” and that “those who take years to craft a book are geniuses” really tick me off. Each of us as writers—as readers—as people move at our own pace. Associating the time it takes to create something to its value is just plain wrong.
Read the book.
Look at the painting.
Listen to the opera or concerto and determine based on the work alone if it speaks to you.
If it does, why does the time frame it takes to create it matter?