It’s debatable whether Lethem would have had the same kind of five-book support for his genre-bending fictions – even with all his awards – in the current climate, but I’m sure that there would be some grumbling from the sales department eager to sell in another fantasy-crime novel featuring a returning character.
The problem is, as Lethem highlighted, that one can only write the books you feel compelled to write.
This crosses my mind every-so-often. The novels I’ve written aren’t entirely different from one another, but someone looking for another drawing room horror novel might be slightly put off by the supernatural crime thiller or the alternate world science fiction (that looks a little like fantasy). But, yes, there’s nothing for it. A writer writes what stories she has. Maybe if we all encourage readers to read widely?
Also, wasn’t it a rule that the titles of novels should be italicized? Or have we as an internet writing culture moved beyond that?
There’s a discussion going on around the web about gender bias, or maybe just lack of gender participation, touched off by a post by Jeff Vandermeer. The argument, at its heart, is that women write less (and therefore submit less for publication) because of the extra demands that society places on women. After a couple days of mulling this, I think it comes down to the same old issues of budget that most things relate to. Just as you only have so much money in your pocket or so much caloric burn in your metabolism, you only have so many hours in the day. To put it in heretical terms (as far as “society” goes), you can’t have it all. At some point in life, you have to decide what it is you *really* want and what things will have to be sacrificed to get it. Sure, some people are more efficient than others. If you have kids and a clean house and still write mammoth novels, cool. More power to you. But I am not that person and I know it. When I get down to writing, really real writing, the apartment goes to hell. That’s a sacrifice make despite the shadows of my mom and grandma who kept their houses sparkling. I’d like a bigger place, even a house, but that requires money from a paying job. Paying jobs requires time that I’m not willing to give up. That’s a sacrifice for me. Same goes for the traveling I’d like to do, the events I’d like to see. I don’t plan on having children (not a huge sacrifice since I’m not keen on kids), but that’s usually a sacrifice women aren’t willing to make. In the end, the trick is not letting people get to you about your messy apartment or your lack of kids (or your unfinished novel) if those things don’t mean much to you.
Yesterday was a mulling and talking day writing-wise, and I finally took the Christmas tree down.