If I wrote 200 books would they be any good?
In order to make the statement I want to make I have to admit to reading the book I read. Here goes: “The 200th Novel from #1 New York Times Bestselling Author….Nora Roberts.” First of all, I hear Nora Roberts and I assume romance. I’m not even sure that’s accurate. That’s just where my head goes. I Googled it. I’m right.
No offense to those who read romance. I cannot claim to be better than you in any way, considering some of the non-romance drivel that I read. Plus, I’ve read my fair share. Back in middle school and early high school, when I was still deemed “too young” to stay home during family camping trips, I would pack up a couple dozen romance novels (this was back in the day when Fabio was the cover du jour) and plow through them all in a week or two.
First, I feel compelled to explain how the Nora Roberts book came into my possession (see how I’m trying to distance myself?). A girlfriend handed it to me a couple of months ago. I didn’t really register the author at the time. I just saw a book. I like books.
Actually, I am a voracious reader. I feel incomplete (and a little panicky) if I don’t have a book to read. I don’t tend to buy books because I can’t afford my habit and the house isn’t big enough to store them all. I have a Kindle that I use primarily when we go on vacation. I still, even in this age of the electronic book, read a lot of hardbacks. There’s a couple of reasons behind this: first, there is still something satisfying about the heft of a book in my hand. Second, I have a whole list of authors that I like. And I like to read their new releases. At my library it seems easier to get ahold of new releases in hardback form versus electronic.
A few weeks ago I slammed the cover shut on my most recent read. This drives the husband somewhat crazy. How quickly I read. You see, he gets to buy his books. Because he is a book savorer. It takes him a long time to get through one. He also remembers what he reads, which I somewhat envy. I don’t tend to retain what I read. Anyways, slammed the book shut. Done! I rolled to the edge of the bed and started digging around in the pile of books that is always on the floor next to the bed. I discovered I was out of library books. Disconcerting.
So, I picked up a book that I purchased from Powell’s Books a couple of months ago. Powell’s. Now there’s a store a reader can sink her teeth into. The book? Delancey by Molly Wizenberg. I had been saving it. Mostly because her first book, A Homemade Life, was so luscious that I read it in two days. I had, therefore, held onto Delancey for the perfect moment, intending to savor it. Apparently, “out of library books” equals the perfect moment. I started Delancey on a Saturday night and only got a few pages into it before getting sleepy. On Sunday I wasn’t feeling very well, so I turned on the gas fireplace, curled up in an oversized chair with a blanket, lit a lavender-honey candle and cracked open Delancey. Yes, it was nice. My plan for Delancey was for it to last from Sunday until Wednesday, when we were leaving for vacation. I already had a book ready to go on my Kindle and didn’t want to carry paper with me. I finished Delancey. Late Sunday afternoon. Really. It’s like my head just opens and swallows books whole.
I was left with a conundrum. I had selected the “perfect” book for my Kindle for vacation and didn’t want to dip into it early. But, Sunday-Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, that’s almost four whole days without a book. The fluttery, panicky feeling set in. I went upstairs, to the book pile. Slim pickin’s. Most had been read.
My eyes lit on a novel by Nora Roberts.
And that is the convoluted story that brought me to the cover of the Nora Roberts book that proclaims, “The 200th novel…”
200? First of all, is that possible? Nora Roberts published her first book in 1981. In 34 years she has published an average of 5.88 books a year.
Second of all, is it truly a feather in an author’s cap to say, “I’ve written more than 200 books!” Are they a machine churning out similar plots with similar characters?
Some of my favorite authors have written a lot of books. And I still like them. Then there are other authors that I still find myself reading, after all these years, though I’m no longer fond of their characters. Patricia Cornwell comes to mind. Writer of the Kay Scarpetta series. Used to love her books. Now I find them rather painful. Kay and clan seem to have deteriorated into an angst-filled group of…whiners. I’ve had the thought, after reading her most recent novels, that maybe she should just kill them all of and start with a clean slate. Wow. That’s harsh. But true. Janet Evanovich is another. When I first started reading the Stephanie Plum series I would laugh out loud. Now I just wish she would choose a guy and quit being a bounty hunter. Said that one out loud, too. And, yet, I still read their novels. Though I’d like to point out that I do not buy them. That would be encouraging them.
On the other side of the coin, if a person writes one very good novel and that’s it are they set apart from the churners? Or do we equate them with music’s “One Hit Wonders”? There have been authors that I have stumbled across, read their one or two books with a great deal of excitement, and waited for their next release. Still waiting.
So, I don’t know. Publish a ton or publish a little? Does it matter if you’ve published? I think it would matter to me. Let’s just put it this way, I’d rather be Molly Wizenberg than Nora Roberts.
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