Sunday, January 14, 2007

Why Can't I Be More Like a Gorman?

Or a Randisi?  Or a McBain?  A Westlake?  Ohmigod I can’t think of a woman.  Oh, well, the point is they’ve written hundreds of books.  Each one of them.  Especially Randisi and Gorman.  And while they’re writing novels they’re compiling anthologies.  And editing magazines and all kinds of stuff.  And they’re not writing in one genre either.  Gorman and Randisi write westerns as well as crime novels.  And horror novels.

I’m struggling to write my 20th novel but nothing stops them.  McBain is dead so I can only look back.  But the others are very much alive.  And very much writing.  And publishing.

Okay, after my day off last Wednesday I did write on Thursday.  Not much.  But I wrote.  Then I went to the movies on Friday.  I bet Randisi and Gorman don’t go to the movies on a possible work day.  I’m sure they don’t.

And will they take off tomorrow because it’s a holiday.  Of course not.  Will I?  Of course. There’s one last movie I have to catch before the Golden Globes tomorrow night.  You have to have priorities in this writing life, afterall.

Yes, I know.  Mine suck.  On Tuesday I’ll try again to be disciplined.  I do want to finish this 20th even if no one publishes it.  And I’ll probably want to do a 21st.  But I can’t get ahead of myself this way.

How do Randisi and Gorman and Westlake and the ones I’m forgetting do it?  Even if I worked seven days a week I could never write as many books as they.  And please don’t start thinking they’re hacks because they most definitely aren’t.  That’s not to say that every book they publish is wonderful.  But a lot are very good.  So it’s a mystery to me how they do it.

But I wish I could.

3 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think the key is in your first sentence. They're men. And somewhere in the background, someone else is taking care of them. Doing everything that needs to be done except for the writing.
2)And men are at least party autistic. Every day is the same for them. Women live larger lives but there is a price in productivity.
Finally, men doubt themselves far less than women. They rarely go over what they've written and tear it up.
My daughter tells me I see everything in terms of gender and I guess I do.
The one great exception to this theory is Joyce Carol Oates.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

James Reasoner just finished his 200th book.

As for a female equivalent, how about, er, damn, it just slipped my mind--does Barbara Bradford Taylor sound right?

Both Gorman's and Randisi's wives are also writers, pattinase, so maybe your theory is wrong.

Ed Gorman said...

I think the male-female angle on literary productivity is the kind of thing that makes most people flee from knee-jerk feminism. I know female romance writers who write fifteen books a year. Can you say Nora Roberts for God's sake? As for spousal support--ever hear of house husbands?

I can't speak for Randisi or Westlake but I'll repeat what I always say to those who snub genre fiction as "formulaic." Will you please e mail me the formula so I can follow it.

For example: I've been working on the same novel since Nov 1, 2006. In the course of this I've written and thrown away 51,000 words. It's a different kind of book for me and I couldn't find the right voice till now. Voice to me is everything. If I can hit it right I do a book in two to three months. But if I can't...this'll end up as a four-five monther at the least. And this dilemma happens to me a couple of times a year. (I still need that formula.)

"Men doubt themselves far less than women." As Theodore Sturgeon once said, "When somebody says redheads are--reach for your gun." Redheads are individuals. You can't generalize. Nor can you generalize about men and women. Impossible. Any number of male writers have committed suicide because they felt they'd lost their writing gift. I'm sure a number of female writers have done the same.