Prolific Penmasters

It’s ironic that the three writers I look up to the most are also some of the most prolific.  Mercedes Lackey has dozens upon dozens of novels.  Many are collaborations, but many are not, and even collaborating takes a great deal of time and effort.  Oddly enough, she started off as a writer of fanfiction and was a protegée of Marion Zimmer Bradley, one of the mistresses of sci-fi and fantasy.  J. Michael Straczynski writes for 10 hours a day, every day, except on his birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s.  He says, “If I don’t have an assignment, I’ll write a short story, I’ll write a spec script, I’ll write a novel. I just enjoy the hell out of it.”  Out of the 110 episodes comprising Babylon 5, he wrote the scripts for 92 of them, plus all of the movies.  Joss Whedon has created several cult classic television shows with some of the most unique and memorable mythologies and characters.  He worked on BuffyAngel, and Firefly as writer and director during the 2002-2003 television season, and said that he only feels his best when he’s writing:

“You know, I always get cranky when I’m not writing,” Joss admits.  “I’ll be mad and I don’t know why.  I just feel like I’m angry with everybody and I hate everything and life is a sham.  Then I’ll realize I haven’t written anything. And rewriting doesn’t count.  It has to be an original script” (Havens, 158).

I find looking up to them ironic because I am so not like them.  I don’t seem to have the drive and ambition, the dedication and discipline that they have to produce so much in such a short period of time.  Yes, they are older than me and have had more time to produce, but they all started young and were producing vast amounts of material by the time they were 30.  I’m 24 going on 25 and have yet to finish anything.  On one hand, it’s encouraging to have role models like these three wonderfully prolific individuals.  But it’s also discouraging to look at what they have accomplished and what I have (or haven’t).  I realize that there is such a huge gap I might never be able to catch up.

I suppose this dual sensation of reverence and jealousy, with a(n un)healthy dose of dejection is something that a lot of writers face.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but compare my work to the work of those I respect and find my own sadly lacking.  My worlds, characters, plots, and dialogue don’t shine and burn and grab you like theirs does.  I look at their work and see genius and wonder.  I look at my own work and see the product of a second-rate fantasy hack.  Maybe my work is technically as good as Mercedes Lackey’s.  I don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as J. Michael Straczynski or Joss Whedon.  I doubt I’ll ever reach that level.  So maybe my technical execution is as good as one of my idols.  But it’s still not done.

A writer’s work never really is done, I suppose.  There’s always the urge to go back and tweak things, but eventually you have to say, “Enough is enough” and send it off.  But, despite all the tweaking that can be done to improve a story, you still need to have the thing finished with a beginning, middle, and end that your readers, or viewers, will sit through and enjoy.  The old saw of “Write every day” applies.  That’s probably what I should be doing now instead of writing this blog.

In my admittedly meager defense, I have managed to write for about an hour a day for the past three days.  That’s a far cry from Straczynski’s ten hours a day, but it’s a start.  It’s just fanfiction, and particularly bad fanfiction at that…but at least I’m writing.  After going for over 6 months without penning a word beyond these increasingly short entries, I’m (slightly) proud of myself.  In comparison to what Lackey, Straczynski, and Whedon do, it’s a little pathetic.  But I have to remember a few things:

  •  Everybody has to start somewhere.  Even geniuses like Joss Whedon.
  •  I don’t write for a living…yet.  I have a regular job and housekeeping duties that do eat into some of my time.  Not all of it, but enough to command my attention.
  •  I’m probably not as bad as I think I am.  That’s the depression talking, and I can overcome it.  Or at least learn to live with it. 

That being said…I really need to get my rear in gear.  ^_^;;

One thought on “Prolific Penmasters

  1. All I can say is, yeah. I'm the exact same way. I almost cried- literally, I got choked up- reading this entry. You're not the only sad little writer who needs to get their rear in gear. 😦

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