No, not me – don’t be silly…
A thought just occurred to me while reading a comment on Graeme’s Fantasy Books review – I won’t link to it but it ran something like "give Brandon Sanderson a few years and he’ll mature into a writer who’ll consistently blow your socks off"
Now I don’t want to piss all over that sentiment at all; I’m not averse to doing so in principle of course, but it doesn’t deserve that. However, it does make me wonder how far Sanderson’s work has to mature. I’ve only read one of his and it was perfectly accomplished, and the man’s written a few before and since – checking Amazon quickly there could be twelve that are his of varying sorts. So at what point does a writer fully mature, or come into the height of their skills?
The commercial pressures of writing means that you’ve got to put out good books regularly, or brilliant ones semi-regularly, to have a career. There are always going to be people able to step into your slot if you fall away, but Brandon Sanderson’s hitting the peak of his commercial success most likely. I think he’ll maintain that for a while now, but will the books actually get any better? As an example, Iain Banks is a big deal and I’ve been unimpressed with his recent offerings so I’m wondering if these days people actually hit their peak quite early in their career and it’s a question of how far you maintain? I wouldn’t want the pressure Scott Lynch or Pat Rothfuss had after the success of their first however much I’d like the money they earned, but how do you go on from there? I have in my head the kernel of an idea that I suspect might be the best one I’ve had – it’s several years of writing, but the shape of the idea means I think it’ll be my best. Might that be my peak? Where would I go from there?
I’m certainly one of those who’re building their skills and ideas so the books are getting better as they go on – just check out my amazon reviews for a sense of that! – but does being first published at 26 mean my height of skills will arrive about now? Mid-thirties? Will I win a Nobel prize in my fifties? Will I learn to type properly by the end of this post?…
I know it’s as elusive a concept as any around, but I wonder if I could look at the careers of other writers and chart some shape of their progress. That I’m a slow starter doesn’t surprise me since I only started looking at the written word with a critical eye after Uni – no English degree for me, or A-level for that matter – but everyone learns their craft somehow, either that or they just write something and push it on the Amazon forums all day….
(No conclusions here I’m afraid, look at the name of the blog if you were expecting anything else! Back in my box I go now…)