Can a Novelist Be Too Prolific?

Stephen King about himself from The New York Times, August 27

…Yes, I’ve published more than 55 novels. Yes, I have employed a pseudonym (Richard Bachman). Yes, I once published four books in one year (shades of James Patterson…except mine were longer, and written without the aid of a collaborator). And yes, I once wrote a novel (The Running Man) in a single week. But I can say, with complete honesty, that I never had any choice.

As a young man, my head was like a crowded movie theater where someone has just yelled “Fire!” and everyone scrambles for the exits at once. I had a thousand ideas but only 10 fingers and one typewriter. There were days – I’m not kidding about this, or exaggerating – when I thought all the clamoring voices in my mind would drive me insane. Back then, in my 20s and early 30s, I thought often of the John Keats poem that begins, “When I have fears that I may cease to be / Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain…”

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2 responses to “Can a Novelist Be Too Prolific?

  1. “Can a Novelist Be Too Prolific?” — yes!

  2. Christopher Booker, in his 2004 book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories develops the old argument that there are a small number of basic plots. These are easy to combine, entwine and enrich. Beyond these basics, all else is commentary.