Thursday, September 29, 2022

Autumn and the Writing Life

Sat down for dinner last night at 7:15 and was surprised to see that it was dark outside. Still September and time to get out the candles. Autumn is on its way.


Technically, it already arrived one week ago, but unlike Summer and Winter Solstice, the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox get paid scant mind in the calendar of celebration. Why is that, I wonder? Perhaps the drama of the shortest day and the longest day outdoes the two medium days, proving yet again that it is the extremes that capture our attention.


Speaking of extreme, it struck me the other day that three of the most iconic books of the 1950’s-60’s— Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catch 22—were pretty much one-hit wonders. Each author waited many years to publish another one, none of which captured the public’s attention like the first. Then I started wondering about prolific authors who just kept churning them out, most of them mystery writers. Certainly Agatha Christie who wrote some 80 books, Eric Stanley Gardner with 82 Perry Mason novels, Stephen King up to some 85 books. Sue Grafton wrote at least 25 and John Grisham around the same. 


So now off to Google to see who was the most prolific writer and the surprise answer? L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, who published 1084 (!!) fiction and non-fiction works translated into 71 languages. Enid Blyton wrote some 800 children’s books, Barbara Cartland published 720 Victorian romance novels, Isaac Asimov wrote some 500 novels. Extraordinary! Though truth be told, I haven’t read a single one of any of them or even heard of some of these people.


But the most astounding of all—and confusing as to why she isn’t named above L. Ron Hubbard— is a Spanish writer named Corin Tellado, who was born in 1927 and died in 2009. She wrote and published romantic novels. 4,000 of them!!!! Really?!!! Since I began in 2011, I’ve written 3,550 pieces on this Blog. But most of them are one-page long. I’m trying to imagine each of them as a full-blown novel—it simply boggles the mind. 


I, like all of us, am fascinated by the extremes. But at the end of the day, a single 17-syllable haiku by Basho may penetrate deeper than 4,000 romantic novels. And since I began this piece thinking I was going to write an ode to Autumn, I should at least end with that seasonal reference with a haiku from Basho.


Deep autumn;

My neighbor—

How does he live?


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