A while ago, I got into a convo with someone I used to work with. Among other things, we talked on how the writing is coming. So I tell on what's recently been published, what's coming down the pike.
The question that comes next is 'how many more pieces do I want to write?' To which, I say: a lifetime's worth.
And then I get the response that it's bonkers to think that 24 books (my approximate count of publications on my Amazon page, mostly in journals or anthologies) isn't enough. A few of those have my name on the cover - just a few. I can tell you that's not enough. Nowhere near.
One rationalisation I use is that supermarkets don't stay in business because they have a loaf of bread, or a bottle of milk, or a frozen pizza. No. They stay in business because they have shelves, fridges and freezers fully stocked with that shit. Which is the mindset I have for getting the writing done: it's not just about quality product, it's about volume.
Because, I don't just write stories. I'm building a body of work.
Here's where I lay it out:
I have stories published; from short stories to novellas - no novels as yet. Most of those stories are standalone, but some are part of a particular mythos; such as the Sunset Is Just The Beginning mythos or the Kin, We Are mythos. But for all of my published works, it wouldn't take my most dedicated readers more than a few months (I'm guessing) to consume them.
Having caught up with Mr. Macabre, Erik Hofstatter a while back, we had this conversation, among others: what do you want for your writing? For me, the bottom line is to engage and wow my audience ...and maybe scare the shit outta them. The rationale I made - and this will be familiar commentary to some of you - is that for your favourite author/recording artist/actor, etc., how many books/singles or EPs or albums/films or TV shows/etc. have they done? Ditto for the likes of painters, sculptors, fashion designers, etc. Because, yes, you might like some of their work, but part of what you buy into is the body of work. The premise that you like what they've done so far, and you're going to stick around for more.
First and foremost, the writing itself is the most important thing: the be-all and end-all, the bread and butter, the alpha-omega, the bottom line: the basic rule of Game 101. For any work I put out, it needs to be good enough that I would put my name to, and it needs to be good enough that I would buy it. Believe me when I say I don't take this lightly. As for whether my work is good enough for someone else to buy, that's a different issue altogether. Because I'm already aware that some people simply won't take to what I do or how I do it - hell, Mama's one of these people. And that's okay. But what matters is that my audience are engaged, wowed, and hooked. And maybe scared and unsettled as well. Bearing in mind that what takes me weeks and months to write is something a reader can consume in a fraction of the time, I'm mindful to 'keep writing.'
As such, this is where I want to craft work that truly rewards the audience and gives them something worth buying into. Which means more work; a lot more stories to show the journeys of those characters - there needs to be breadth to it. Enough to take up a bookcase, rather than a bookshelf. Short stories to novels; collections through to series. Things that fans can debate over. Things that film and TV studios can buy into. Things that can be adapted as plays, whether it's for the stage or radio. Things that journalists, lecturers and such can delve into and theorise over.
In terms of reward I'd like for my work, to wow my audience and to live comfortably from it would be a good start. In terms of the volume of work? That probably would be a lifetime's worth.
So the next time you look at my bibliography whether it's on my site, on Amazon or some such, or even on your shelf, know this: I'm not done yet, nor do I plan to be.
Keep an eye on the body.