Writing to pay bills has always been a fear of mine. "What if I become a hack, churning out the next book just to pay the light bill? What would happen to my artistic integrity?" I didn't see how anyone could give an honest effort while cranking out three or four books a year. Now, even though I have a full-time job, this economy has so decimated my savings that I have had to up my writing output to keep food on the table. This terrified me at first. All my fears of becoming a hack resurfaced. "How could I feed my family with my writing and not compromise myself?"
I remembered Stephen King's output in the eighties. I read then that he wrote 2,000 words a day. I write around 850 words a day. That's not exactly balls to the wall. I have more ideas for stories in my head than I could ever possibly write this year or next. So, I am not at a lost for inspiration. I am not struggling to come up with the next book and churning out whatever I can just to make a quick buck. That would suck, for both you as a reader and me as a writer. I'd rather starve.
Every book I have written in the last year has been one that has been on my mind for at least two years prior to me putting pen to page and some had been sitting unfinished for ten years or more. The stories I'm coming up with now will probably not get written for a year or two at the least. I write as much as I possibly can without taking too much time from my family or risking divorce or insanity.
What I have found is that necessity not only breeds creativity, but it spawns the motivation to actually give life to the ideas languishing in one's mind. An overdue power bill is a great impetus to get off one's ass and write. I cannot imagine how much longer Sacrifice might have remained unfinished had I not needed to pay the rent or when or if I would have ever finished Amber Alert or written SKINZZ. Would I have even begun my collaborations with Andre Duza or J.F. Gonzalez had I not been unemployed from March to September? Probably not.
Writing three or four books a year while working full-time, training fighters, and raising three kids and a wife ain't easy. Don't get me wrong. My point is that it does not necessarily lead to a decrease in the quality of one's work as an artist. Some authors, like Brian Keene, have done some of their best work since they became full-time writers. If I had more time to write, and didn't need the money, I'd probably write a helluva lot less and many of the books my readers now enjoy would not even exist. Hell, I wrote The Resurrectionist under a time crunch and finished the last 17,000 words in one weekend and I would go so far as to say that it is one of my best books with one of the best endings I've ever written. So, more time is not necessary for better quality when it comes to art. And it appears that my fears of becoming a hack have (so far) been for nothing.
Despite my enormous output the last two years, I still have more ideas than time to write them. My novel about a former Ugandan child soldier being chased through Death Valley by subhuman cannibals remains uncompleted. My novel about an interracial couple involved in a cruel BDS&M game is only half complete. My zombie(ish) novel has yet to be written. There's a collaboration I've been meaning to start with one of your favorite extreme horror authors that I have not gotten around to yet. The sequel to Population Zero is still bouncing from brain cell to brain cell, but has yet to make it onto the page. I've got a novella to write for Sinister Grin Press next year that is still just a pile of notes. I am trying hard to finish Prey Drive by January and I just came up with an idea for a screenplay. That's seven or eight projects right there that will carry me through 2013. So no dearth of ideas here.
What's funny in all of this, is that even writing three or four books a year, I feel like I'm not writing enough. I keep remembering Stephen King's 2,000 words a day and thinking: "Damn. I'm a fucking slacker." I need to get my ass in gear! So, I'm setting a goal for myself of 8,000 words a week until Prey drive is complete. That's the goal. Now, if I can just get my slave-driver of a muse to back off and let me concentrate on one project before filling my head with new ideas, I should make it. Wish me luck!