Most writers are always known for a particular book no matter the number of books they write. So when we mention George Orwell, we think of 1984 (and sometimes Animal Farm), when Chinua Achebe is mentioned everybody thinks of Things Fall Apart (even though I believe Arrow of God, the last of the African Trilogy, is his best novel), When Chimamanda is mentioned, the novel is Half of a Yellow Sun. Alan Paton, though wrote several books, is known basically for Cry, the Beloved Country.
Whenever a writer's first book happens to be accepted by the critics as a great book, it is almost always the case that the writer is unable to match this earlier success. It is in the quest to better Catch-22, that Heller wrote the Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man, describing his frustrations* in an attempt to achieve the success that Catch-22 brought. However, some writers like Jonathan Franzen has achieved this feat. His second novel, Freedom, has followed the success of Corrections. I am leaving out those who write in series like J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter Series.
The question this weekend is: Should writers write in quest of a great novel or a masterpiece? And for those who have achieved one in their writing career, whilst alive, should they work with the aim to better this? Wouldn't this put the writer under severe and unnecessary pressure? Couldn't it even lead to writers' block or whatever it is they call that inability to think and write? How should this person approach writing?
*Haven't yet read this novel. Statement here is based on what the blurb says.