Friday, August 28, 2015

Stephen King: "Can A Novelist Be Too Productive?"

Stephen King, New York Times:
There are many unspoken postulates in literary criticism, one being that the more one writes, the less remarkable one's work is apt to be. ...

This is not a roundabout way of justifying my own prolificacy. Yes, I've published more than 55 novels. Yes, I have employed a pseudonym (Richard Bachman). Yes, I once published four books in one year (shades of James Patterson ... except mine were longer, and written without the aid of a collaborator). And yes, I once wrote a novel ("The Running Man") in a single week. But I can say, with complete honesty, that I never had any choice.

As a young man, my head was like a crowded movie theater where someone has just yelled "Fire!" and everyone scrambles for the exits at once. I had a thousand ideas but only 10 fingers and one typewriter. There were days — I'm not kidding about this, or exaggerating — when I thought all the clamoring voices in my mind would drive me insane. ...

My thesis here is a modest one: that prolificacy is sometimes inevitable, and has its place. The accepted definition — "producing much fruit, or foliage, or many offspring" — has an optimistic ring, at least to my ear.

1 comment:

Zenslinger said...

I am not sure it has any effect on the average quality of the work -- some of King's stuff is a lot better than others, at least to me, but that's also the case with most writers. But it will definitely encourage more repetition. There are a bunch of King characters that could be transposed between novels without a ripple.