In a recent column in the New York Times, Steven King ponders the question of how many books is too many for a writer who wants to be taken seriously. With at least 55 titles under his belt, you can guess what King thinks about this issue. But I have to take the other side of the argument. 55 novels is just too many for any serious writer. Way, way too many. I cannot imagine anyone with something profound to say would need 55 attempts to get his or her point made. What is more likely for a writer getting much past about 10 novels is that he or she is going to just tell the same story over and over again. The creative mind is tricky in coming up with new ways to illustrate an idea. Though I do not write anymore, ideas still flow through my imagination all the time. The more I dwell on these ideas, though, the sooner I recognize them as themes and stories that I have already explored. The other danger for writers who persist in putting out book upon book is diminishing skills. To write well takes extraordinary mental energy and concentration. These are two things that time steals away, no matter how much you resist. I remember reading William Faulkner's Snopes trilogy. The Hamlet is classic Faulkner, with sentences that last for pages and an intensity that all but burns the eyes of the reader who beholds the words. But by the time you get to The Mansion, his energy is spent. The Mansion meanders where The Hamlet charged. I'm sure Faulkner had the same desire to tell stories at the end of his career as he did at the beginning. But no mortal could keep it up forever. If you have an important story to tell, do so. Once you have accomplished this, put down the pen and write no more. Better one great book than 55 very good ones.
Steven King And The 55 Novels