Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mozart. So There.

I've never quite known how to react when people call me prolific.  (Partially because I don't think I am, particularly.  I know lots of authors who produce way more books than I do, but whatevs.)

Some people say it like it's a compliment and I'm not sure how to respond, because it seems odd to say "Thank you" when someone essentially tells you that you work hard and "Yes, I know" seems kinda bratty. (As does arguing the point.)

Then there are other people who use "prolific" as a veiled insult.  As if they can't comment on the quality of your work due to the if-you-can't-say-something-nice rule, so they comment on the abundance of it.  Kind of like we were taught in eighth grade not to say something was bad or we didn't like it.  My PC social studies teacher made us all say "That's interesting."  So of course interesting became a huge insult in my middle school.

But the ones that make me nuts are the ones who imply that anyone who is prolific is also producing at sub-par quality.  "Cranking it out" or "churning out books" and therefore they can't be any good.  I don't know why great literature has to take a million years to produce.  I don't understand why some authors are almost celebrated for their lack of consistent production.  But then, I'm a genre writer, not a literary one, so the same rules don't apply.  We have deadlines.  And contracts that don't give us a decade to produce our next magnum opus.  We have to satisfy our readers on a regular basis.  That's our job.

So why this stigma against productivity?  Productivity is not the enemy of genius.  Look at Mozart!  That man produced genius at a fiendish rate.  Shakespeare wasn't taking three or four years between plays to ruminate on the perfect turn of phrase.  When did we start looking at artists who crank as a negative?

Someone told me recently about a study with art students where they were divided into two groups - one graded qualitatively and the other quantitatively.  Apparently, the artists who were asked to produce massive quantities of art also produced, on the whole, qualitatively superior work.  So more creativity sparks better creativity.  (And I've been dying to read this study in its entirety so if anyone knows where I can find a copy of it online, you will be my bestest friend for evah and evah.)

My theory is that the stigma ultimately stems out of jealousy.  As a defense against the Mozarts and Shakespeares of the world, some mere mortal looked at them and said, "Yeah, but they're just cranking it out.  I'm honing my art."  And the sentiment stuck. 

Me?  I wanna be Stephen King-prolific when I grow up.  So I'll keep on cranking.

Back to work...

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