“Why so many novellas/short projects, CCJ?”
This is such a loaded question, which I get painfully often, that I’m sorely attempted to answer with, “Because I’m grown.”
I guess that’s not very helpful though, huh?
Especially when it’s often a question with no malice behind it, just a simple inquiry. Only… it’s hard to not be defensive about it when my art is attacked on this very specific front on a regular basis. I seriously get this in comments, questions, reviews, messages, every week. Sometimes multiple times a week.
What’s with all these novellas?
Shorts don’t satisfy me.
This could’ve been 300 pages.
Why is it so abrupt?
This didn’t have enough meat to it, should’ve been longer.
And that’s not even the mean stuff, really.
It’s all hella subjective, and look – I’m not here to tell you that you have to buy and enjoy everything I do. What I will tell you is that my art is very specific, and I never pretend it’s something it isn’t.
I write Black couples.
I write the story they give me.
Many of those stories do not require a full length novel.
It’s possible that, if one went into a shorter project looking to enjoy it for what it is instead of what one wanted it to be, one might discover that there is value and entertainment in simply…what was offered.
Kinda like how your favorite food being steak doesn’t make sushi taste less good.
It’s just different.
Maybe you don’t like steak.
Maybe you don’t like sushi.
That doesn’t take the nutritional or taste value away from either thing though.
And also, there are lots of different types of sushi, lots of ways to cook a steak.
Anyway, maybe you’re thinking, “But you’re the author, it’s up to you,” or, “well I could easily see where this or that could happen to make it longer.”
But over here, as for me, every story that comes to my mind (and others) does not require full novel length, and that’s it and that’s all.
I’m not going to make anything longer just for the sake of writing a long book.
I’m not adding a twist, a turn, an angle, a slight left, an overpass, nothing.
I’m telling what came to my head.
Because that is what works for me.
On average, for the last 6-7 years, I have produced anywhere from 300k-500k words… a year.
Let’s do some math. We’ll call it six years instead of seven, and split the word count difference to say 400k words every year.
That’s 2.4 million words over the length of my career.
If we break that down to a 100k word novel (About the length of Ante Up, if you’re familiar, and what I would consider a “long” book), that’s the equivalent of twenty-four full length novels in six years.
But remember, we rounded down.
So I’ve written more than twenty-four full length novels in six years (I keep repeating this cause WOW).
What’s the purpose of these numbers?
Because what we wont do is act like just because I SOMETIMES write novellas, I haven’t been putting in the work.
My catalog is, quite literally, a mixed bag of genre and length.
In 2019, I published:
Wonder – full length
Coveted – novella
The Love Sisters – 3 novellas
In Tandem – shorter full length
Equivalent Exchange – full length
Bittersweet – longer novella
3 Equilibrium Shorts
What I hear when I see those complaints about soooooommaaaaaannnnnyyyyynoveelllllasssss is, “but CCJ, you haven’t done enough.”
And you know… it’s really and truly fine if you think so.
But please don’t talk to me about it.
I’m not trying to be mean, and really I’m not even feeling sensitive, but you can call it that if you’d like.
I’m calling it a boundary.
I’m not trying to police what you feel about the books you read, or suggesting you can’t express it.
Tell a friend.
Tell your bookclub.
Tell your homegirls from the facebook group.
Put it in a review if you feel inclined, that’s your space to say whatever it is you feel.
But before you bring it to ME, remember that there’s a real person over here – not a company, not a brand, just me, over here trying to work out my passion and create what speaks to me.
I don’t need consoling, or defending, or bolstering, none of that – I am honestly and truly good, because this is a boundary for me. If you’ve asked me about when I’ll do more full length, don’t feel like you inspired this – it wasn’t you. It was the quite literal hundreds of times I’ve heard it.
My work, in the way I present it, is absolutely enough, and I will forever and always create in a way that feels good to me.