What could I mean by this outrageous, truly truly outrageous statement? I’m talking about certain features of the arts using a legendary rapper’s tendency to be a perfectionist and not release any albums he feels are phoned in. Dr Dre has released two classic albums, The Chronic and 2001, which are regarded as classics of his genre of music. He’s also released other albums which are obscure (perhaps for a reason) and is threatening to release another album called Detox though these days he seems content marketing his Beats headphones.
Dr Dre’s oeuvre isn’t for everyone, his gin and Hennessy laced rhymes aren’t loved by the Mos Def or De La Soul crowd but since Dr Dre’s quality over quantity approach to his creative work was the most apt comparison I could come up with - without tarnishing the good name of a Harper Lee or JD Salinger style career, he’s the face I’m putting onto this problem.
Dr Dre’s “release two great albums then fade into the background to sell expensive headphones” strategy is a notable one since it’s one better than the “one hit wonder” category. He’s known for two respected albums instead of hundreds of bad mixtapes like Lil B for example. Because he only puts out what he believes to be not phoning it in, he can focus on quality production of music.
I’m terrified, as many writers are, that I have this trilogy of books that contains my best ideas I’ll ever have, and nothing I’ll write will ever be as great as these three novels again. Difference is, like Dr Dre I have at least one good idea left in me, rather than having only one story to tell.
Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, and not much else, but she’s a genius. Bram Stoker wrote a lot of things, yet he’s only remembered as The Dracula Guy. Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick and other things but that white whale’s hard to ignore. My point is, even if you do come up with great works of art beyond what you’re famous for, if you quit while you’re ahead it might be a better idea than you think.
Besides, if you’re a writer with only two great novel ideas, short stories and non-fiction of a comedic bent always sells well. Oscar Wilde wrote one novel, he mostly wrote plays, but The Picture Of Dorian Gray is some damn good laurels to rest on for a part time novelist.
I’m not quite sure what to do once I write my best ideas. Maybe write for Cracked.