If you’re curious, dear reader, my average day is usually occupied with other labors. If we’re lucky, Glynn and I get maybe sixty minutes a day to work on our writing. Sometimes it's hard to find even that one spare hour. Consequently, it takes us about nine months to write and publish a novel.
In a piece by The Daily Beast, James Patterson revealed that he writes every day of every week of every year, and averages about 10 novels a year. Yes, he has co-writers for several of them, but still. If you’re hoping to become one of his co-writers, and I expect we'll all get a turn sooner or later, he pops out 900 pages of novel outlines alone on an annual basis.
If you’ve been wondering, Glynn and I usually outline our stuff, too. We have never followed the outline to the letter, sometimes the story goes awry or our characters decide to carry the tale in a new direction, but we prefer to begin a project with a solid storyline. To plot and write our last seven-page outline took us about two weeks. JP would be ashamed.
Barbara Cartland, per Writer on Fire, was one of the world's most prolific authors but she didn’t bother typing out new words on a regular basis. Instead, she lounged on her sofa, dictating fresh fiction to her faithful secretaries. (It wasn't such an easy job, being one of her secretaries. If Barbara was dictating, you were forbidden to cough or sneeze.) BC's technique was a success, producing as many as 7,000 words a day and a full-length manuscript every two weeks. She eventually published 723 novels, with even more to come. Although she’s no longer with us, Cartland has another 160 unpublished manuscripts in the archives.
Glynn and I can’t hope to compete with those kinds of numbers. Although Glynn might argue otherwise, because he has no real sense of time or the passing of years, there’s no chance we’ll ever complete hundreds of novels. Or, for that matter, even 100 novels. Someday, with our fingers crossed and great good luck, we hope to have published ten full-length romance novels. Eleven, maybe, if Alan Dean Foster ever steps up to meet our vampire romance novel challenge.
I admire Roberts, Patterson and Cartland, both for their success and for their work ethic. They've earned their kudos. They’re in it to win it, as some of my writer friends say, and they won't let anything deter them from doing their jobs. Anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays are just another working day for them.
Even in death, Babs Cartland is kicking our butts. It doesn’t matter what the calendar says, if the sun has risen, these authors are (or were) on task. And hurray for them. Way to go, guys.
Glynn and I aren't nearly as driven. I insist we take time off for birthdays and anniversaries, and he happily complies. We especially enjoy holidays together – like Thanksgiving, a week ago. We took Poison on our trip with us, walked her at every rest stop, and listened to Radio Classics along the way. (I sacrificed my Broadway tunes and he gave up his sports reports.) While we happened to discuss our upcoming novella a couple of times, we did so without pressure. I think Glynn may have sneezed once or twice.
Babs Cartland would probably have docked his pay. Me, I let it slide.