This week I will push myself to finish the second draft of my novel. I must also come up with a title, and experiment with cover art. I have a really awesome artist, and it's just a matter of convincing her to draw something this week.
My novel should be around 60,000 words. The second draft is basically me filling in the scenes I skipped when writing the rough draft. It's also reorganizing what is already there, and fixing inconsistencies.
In the third draft I'll make everything shine. But right now, in order to finish this second draft, I must limit distractions and simplify my lifestyle for the next five days. I'm going to spend a lot less time networking, and much more time meditating.
I'm the type of person who gets so deep into so many different things at once that I never really finish anything. “Jack of all trades, master of none” comes to mind to describe myself. Well, I'm getting this story finished. No excuses. I've got about five novel-length works on various USB drives, and who knows what else laying around in my electronic cache—none of which has been completed, some of which definitely should have been.
Time for me to grow up and learn to work hard.
There have been a few authors in the last couple centuries who have been very successful with a single book (or an idea contained within several books). But this is not typical of what you'll find when looking into the methods of the most famous/talented authors. The best writers are prolific. Authors such as Orson Scott Card, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, and Anne Rice would not have been famous if they had spent ten years perfecting a single story. They played the odds.
The more books an author publishers, the more readers an author reaches. Some books won't be as good as others, but an author who writes that much is probably going to have a hard time writing bad prose consistently. An author may have a bad book here and there, but after writing millions of words, most authors will have improved enough, and hit on enough good story ideas, to be accepted by readers.
Less, in this case, is not more. More is more. That's the type of author I envision myself as. In forty years I want to have written sixty novels. If I do I know two things will likely happen (though they are not certain). 1) I'll have spent my life doing what I love and 2) I'll likely have made a living at it.
Authors like Stephen King and Anne Rice aren't going to write forever. Ray Bradbury is probably going to be dead within the next five years. Harlan Ellison will continue to sue people for stealing his ideas. The next generation of story tellers must be there to fill the void. In my generation there are going to be some great writers—there already are
I'm not saying I'll be one of them, but I'm not afraid to aim high and risk banging my knees if I fall short.