For all the writers out there that think they work hard

June 9, 2010
By

I count myself among the slackers in comparison to this lot. Writing is an often thankless task, slogging away at improving our craft and, hopefully, eventually developing a decent level of skill and recognition. But I don’t think many of us work as hard as the folk listed below. I saw this over on Lynn Viehl’s blog and it blew me away. Lynn posted it as a quiz, but I’ll just hit you up with the facts*:

1. Officially recognized as history’s most prolific novelist for writing 904 books under six pen names:

Mary Faulkner (1903-1973) – South African author who is ranked by the Guiness Book of World Records as history’s most prolific novelist for writing 904 books under six pen names.

2. More than once wrote a 35,000 word novel overnight:

Prentiss Ingraham (1843 -1904) American dime novelist of 600+ books, 200 of which were on Buffalo Bill, who also “occasionally” wrote a 35,000 word novel overnight.

3. Currently holds the world’s record for longest novel title at a whopping 290 words:

Davide Ciliberti: Italian author who currently holds the world’s record for longest novel title: “Per favore dite a mia madre che faccio il pubblicitario lei pensa che sono un pierre e che quindi regalo manciate di free entry e consumazioni gratis a chi mi pare, rido coi vips, i calciatori le veline e le giornaliste, leggo Novella e mi fotografano i paparazzi, entro neI privé saltando la coda, bevo senza pagare, sono ghiotto di tartine e gin tonic, ho la casa piena di oggetti di design, conosco Paris Hilton, Tom Ford ed Emilio”.

Which, when put through a Google translator, apaprently reads:

“Please tell my mother that I make you think that advertising is a gift and then pierre fistfuls of free entry and free drinks to those who seem to me, I laugh with VIPS, players and journalists from the tissue, I read and photograph the News paparazzi by jumping the queue in privé, drink without paying, are fond of sandwiches and gin and tonic, my house is full of design objects, I know Paris Hilton, Tom Ford and Emilio”

Yeah, don’t ask me.

4. Penned a 1.5-million-word opus that is widely considered to be the longest novel in English:

Marcel Proust, author of “In Search of Lost Time” a single book which is a staggering 1.5-million-words.

5. Used 70 different pen names to write 850+ books:

Lauran Paine (1916-), an American paperback novelist, used 70 different pen names to write 850+ books, mostly westerns but also some mysteries and romances.

6. Composed one of the earliest novels in human history:

Murasaki Shikibu, aka Lady Murasaki, a Japanese woman who composed “The Tale of the Genji” around the eleventh century in Japan.

7. Wrote a 110,000 word novel in 21 days without electricity, running water, paper or pen:

Lynn Viehl herself: “During the 2004 hurricane season my family and I went through four consecutive major hurricanes which devastated our region and knocked out our power for nearly a month. I wrote Afterburn, a 110,000 word SF novel in 21 days during that time without electricity, running water, paper or pen. In fact, I wrote the entire book on a battery-powered Palm PDA with a folding keyboard with no means of backing it up, printing it out or otherwise saving it (I couldn’t even change out the batteries because it had no memory card.)”

Now that’s just crazy.

Lynn actually has, as at the start of this year, 45 novels published in 5 genres. So if you think you’re working hard, think again. And maybe use some of the facts above for inspiration. I know I will be.

* And when I say facts, I’m taking Lynn’s word for it and not corroborating any of this. I’m happy to hear in the comments if anyone has any corrections.

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10 Responses to For all the writers out there that think they work hard

  1. Damien on June 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I write a lot of smartarse comments. That’s got to count for something.

  2. alan on June 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Play to your strengths.

  3. Seth on June 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Hmm, since the Proust novel was written in French and only later translated into English, I wonder which book holds the title for longest original English novel. I know I’ve read some that FEEL like 1.5 million words in length.

  4. alan on June 9, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Interesting point about Proust. And yeah, I’ve read a few like that too.

  5. Reay on June 9, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Hell. And here I was thinking I do well when I manage to get in over a thousand words in on a work day. WITH electricity. AND running water…

  6. Reay on June 9, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    … and re-reading my comment, evidently those thousand words I manage may have a few accidental repetitions… :)

  7. Laura Eno on June 10, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Uh…I think I need to work harder. Wow! Thanks for listing these.

  8. alan on June 10, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Humbling, ain’t it!

  9. Simon on June 10, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Apuleius beat Lady Murasaki by about 900 years. The Metamorphoses, or Golden Ass, was written in the second century.

  10. alan on June 10, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Good call! I think I even blogged about that here ages ago. Thanks Simon.

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