Sometimes I make myself sad. (Ok, I make myself sad a lot, but that’s not really the point of this discussion.) I got to thinking the other day about Middle-Earth. Those of you who are huge nerds have had this problem before. Middle-Earth is enormous. It spans The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and has it’s own creation mythos in the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, etc. Tolkien spent the better part of his life building Middle-Earth. He even took the time to create fictional languages — as was his academic interest. In all honesty, this sounds like the work of a crazy person, but 50 years later people are still enjoying Middle-Earth. Academics are still studying Middle-Earth. Nerds are still arguing Middle-Earth. It’s amazing, and I envy that.
Nothing I write will have that scope, and that makes me sad. Oh I know plenty of authors created a number of realms. Tolkien’s contemporary, C.S. Lewis, had the wonderful Narnia plus a number of popular serious works. Neil Gaiman seems to have a popular book in every genre for every demographic. Comic and TV writers seem to contribute to at least a dozen other people’s worlds in the course of their career. That’s all ok, though few of them are studied as much as Tolkien or a realistic writer.
I just have ideas sometimes that are too big for me to finish. I write 40,000 words and realize, this is a 65,000 word novel with two sequels. That’s not so bad, but I literally cannot stick with a story that long. I don’t think I pull a Rowlings and spend years turning out 6 sizable books in the same universe with the same characters. Or a G.R.R.M. for that matter. It’s just too much.
Of course, I’m fortunate enough to have no fans except myself, but myself doesn’t like to be let-down.