I’ve written 16 books at last count. No, that’s not right. I’ve published, or am about to publish my 16th novel come January of 2015. I’ve written far more than 16 (more like 22), and what’s even more amazing to me, is that most of these were written between 2009 and the present day. When you consider I wrote my first full-length novel back in 1997 as a part of my creative thesis for my MFA in Writing at Vermont College, and that in those days my goal was to write one novel per year, I have been increasing my output in direct relation to the annual increase in my age. That said, I am now writing two to three 50-60,000 word novels per year, plus a novella or two tossed in. Add to that some journalism and blogging for the The Vincent Zandri Vox, and you’re taking a ton of words on a daily basis.
A friend of mine who frequents the same bar I visit on a nightly basis when living in Florence, Italy in the Fall, always asks me the same question. “Did you write a new novel today?” Naturally, I laugh at this, but he’s not far off the mark considering the modern world of digital publishing and the demand readers (especially e-book readers) have placed on novelists to produce more and more work. My friend who, like me, will dress in black leather coat over jeans and combat boots in chilly Florence, often asks me how I can keep up such a pace.
“Where do you get your inspiration?” he asks.
Once upon a time, I would have shrugged my shoulders, and smiled dumbly. But now I approach the question by asking another question: “Where do you get yours?”
The man is a professor of math and science at a local university. He’s expected to show up every day, rain or shine, to teach his students what they are paying him to learn. The inspiration required to get out of bed every morning, get dressed, and get himself to class is a moot point. If he can’t do that, he needs another line of work, or he needs to see a shrink, pronto. Inspired teaching, however, is another thing altogether. But if one is good at one’s job…if one possesses a certain degree of talent…one then uses that talent as a channel for inspiration and creativity. This is what separates a professional from an amateur. The former being one who shows up for work every day, regardless of what is going on in the world and in his life. The latter being someone who works only when, “inspired.” This kind of inspired writer usually ends up being a writing teacher in order to pay the bills.
Vincent Zandri is a professional writer.
I work everyday. Two shifts usually. The first begins immediately when I wake up. I go from about seven to ten, when I’ll break for a workout. Then I’ll clean up, have lunch and work all afternoon and quit between five or six. I do this five days a week and on Saturday, I’ll try and work half a day. I take Sundays off, unless I’m working on deadline.
Writing is my job. Sometimes I’m inspired to do it better than other times. Sometimes, inspiration never enters the equation. All too often I’ll look at what I’ve written at the end of the day and I’ll feel myself smiling because it’s not only good, it seems better than what I am capable of.
“Did I write that?” I’ll whisper to myself.
Vincent Zandri is The New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of The Remains, The Shroud Key, The Innocent, The Dick Moonlight PI series, and the forthcoming Everything Burns from Thomas & Mercer. He has worked as a construction laborer, a car parker, a pizza delivery man, a sports reporter, and other odd jobs. Having earned his MFA in Writing from Vermont College, he is a freelance photojournalist, a world traveler, and the author/editor of the popular blog, THE VINCENT ZANDRI VOX. He divides his time between New York and Florence, Italy.