So, the world's oldest romance novelist has died at the age of 105. This alone is quite a headline - and a title - but that's not the most impressive part of the story, at least not for me. The most impressive part is that she wrote and published more than 120 books.
Yes, more than 120 books. That's more than one a year for the entire time she was alive and two of her books are still yet to be published. Just imagine!
Her name was Ida Pollock but she wrote under various pseudonyms and as you read HER story you realize that, even though she had a bit of an advantage over many other writers (her husband was a publisher), she accomplished something quite amazing. After all, she still had to write the books.
Born in the early 1900's, Ida Pollock was raised by a single mother, experienced the London Blitz in WWII and according to the article (see link below) she turned to writing to cope with life. I think this is true of many writers. In fact, when you think about some of the stories told, writing as a coping mechanism is not such a far flung idea.
But back to the more than 120 books in basically what appears to be an 80-year span. It took me four years to write my first novel and I'm heading into year three for my second novel. It's true that I have a full-time job and I write for mostly short periods at a time, but even if I didn't have a full-time job I think it would be quite a challenge to write more than one book a year. It appears that most of Ida's books were shorter romances but still, that's quite an accomplishment.
Yes, her works are described as "sticking to a formula," you know, inexperienced young heroine meets dashing older man, they fall in love, live happily ever after, but she still had to write all of those books! Sometimes when you have to stick to a formula, it becomes even more challenging to write something fresh and entertaining, and fiction writers aren't the only ones who struggle with this. Screen writers, lyricists and just about anyone who produces a written product for commercial consumption faces this.
Now that I've read about Ida and her personal story I'm actually trying to find some of her books to read but they're hard to find and in some cases quite expensive, and it doesn't appear that any of them are available as ebooks. It will be interesting to see how well her two books that are yet to be published fair. You know - like when an artist passes away and his/her paintings become more valuable.
In many ways, Ida's story shows just how ironic life as a writer can be. Many of her books are hard to find, making them more expensive, and she's probably receiving more publicity in death (and free) than she could muster when she was alive and when her books were first published. The life - and death - of a writer really can be ironic, but then again, that's what makes life and writing about life so interesting. Ironic, isn't it?