The Worst Part of Being a Bibliophile (or, Why James Rollins Needs to Write More)

I am an unabashed fan of James Rollins‘ thrillers.  Partly because they’re half a world away from my own work, and partly because I’ve met James Rollins and talked with him, and he’s actually a pretty interesting guy.  Also a nice guy – though admittedly I’m speaking from ten minutes’ experience and not any real understanding.

Mostly, though, his novels just rock.

He’s also a fairly prolific writer, all things considered, which is both a benefit and a drawback.  The benefit?  There’s quite a bit out there to read.  The drawback?  It made him the target for this post.  (Note: at the Maui Writer’s Conference a few years back, Rollins mentioned looking at his life before he was NYT bestselling and deciding to get five books in print as quickly as possible in order to become a full-time writer – which is another reason I flagged him for this post: he knows both sides of the waiting game.)

Because the worst part of being a bibliophile is waiting for the next new offering from one of your favorite authors.

You know what I mean.  It’s that feeling that sets in when you’ve read the current novel, as well as the whole backlist, and you find yourself asking  “Summer 2011?  Really? It’s been fourteen months since the last one.  Don’t tell me he’s decided to get a real life.”

I’m well aware of the reality behind the reality.  I write historical fiction, which means months of research, weeks of initial drafting, and then months (upon months) of editing, fact-checking and making sure that everything turns out right.  That’s before the project hits an agent, or an editor, or the press – after which there are galleys to check and publishing deadlines to wait on.  Fourteen months?  That’s the blink of an eye.  There’s not much more a reasonable person can do.  But even understanding that, it doesn’t make it easier.

Find something else to read? Absolutely.  There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t have a book in my hand.  (Or a Kindle.  And most days, both.) But there will always be certain authors whose release dates get marked on the calendar weeks in advance.

I think that’s a very good thing, by the way.  It’s good to have something to look forward to – and it also gives good motivation to the writers among us.  We need to keep at it and keep the quality high.  Because readers don’t wait on release dates because there’s a spotty result at the end.  They do it because they’ve found in you an author who won’t disappoint.  And because the worst part of being a bibliophile is closely related to the very best part:  the day that new novel hits the shelves, and takes you to a place you’ve been waiting to go.