Sometimes I’ll ask a writer to think about the grand scheme. I ask how many books he would like to see on the shelf at the end of his life. Ten? Five? One, like Harper Lee? There are a lot of reasons people don’t or can’t write more than a book or two. Sometimes the experience of being published is devastating, whether good or bad. If it’s very good, I’ve seen writers buckle under the pressure of living up to their early promise. If it’s very bad, they can be crushed by the disappointment. Sometimes it’s a failure of imagination or the well is truly empty. Sometimes a nervous breakdown or crippling depression is responsible. Or alcoholism and drug addiction. Or, like JD Salinger, the critics killed the entire enterprise, or so he’s said. Or maybe the writer turns to another form: screenwriting, playwriting, finger fucking. I try so hard to motivate writers, but maybe silence is molten.
How many books will you write?
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