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Wednesday, January 25, 2012
4:01 AM | Posted by Marnee Bailey | | Edit Post
I’ve just finished reading all of Sherry Thomas’s books. I’d started from her most recent and worked backwards (because all backasswards is how I roll) so I just finished PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS last night.
I’ve lamented of late (privately, but it still counts if it’s in my head, right?) that there’s not a lot of romance in my most recent romances. I don’t know why that is. Maybe writers are feeling pressure to be prolific. I think getting really deep into emotions and character requires time and maybe they aren’t getting the time they need to go deep. I don’t know. But I do know that Sherry Thomas does not suffer from this problem.
She’s won the RITA the last two years in Historical Romance and I can see why. Her stories are full of angst and emotion. They’re about imperfect people who learn to accept each other’s flaws and their mistakes and move forward.
They are brilliant.
It might be a fault of mine but as I glommed up these gorgeous stories, completely involved in her characters and dragged under by her storytelling, all I could think was, “I’m NEVER going to be able to write something this good.”
I swear it was easier before I started writing seriously. Back in those days I felt free to just enjoy a story. Now, every story I enjoy is followed by re-evaluation of self-worth. As in, “This writer is amazing, I will never compare” or some variation. It’s like I can’t enjoy something without making it into a personal assault on my writing skills.
Please say I’m not the only one.
And, the better the book I read, the worse my recriminations are. Let’s just say, after reading Sherry Thomas’s books, I was feeling low and dejected. (Yes, she’s just that awesome. Go forth and read her stuff if you haven’t yet.)
In the past, I’ve recited all the platitudes to sooth my battered ego. You can’t compare yourself to anyone else. You’re you, they’re them, your voice doesn’t sound like them. Just because they exist in the world—this amazing storyteller—does not mean that you cannot exist here too as an amazing storyteller.
This time, as I was reading everything I could about Sherry Thomas and how she got so darn good, I stumbled across an interview with her at Once Upon a Chapter's blog. And in this interview, she said something as if she knew I was reading. When asked what advice she would give to aspiring writers, she said: “Read books that are so good that it makes you despair. And then get up the next day determined to be just as good, if not better. Rinse and repeat. :)”
Wow. I nearly waved, I was so sure she could see me reading.
This is the answer. Reading amazing books, books that make us feel sick they’re so good, gives us that benchmark and an example. This (insert amazing book here) is an example of how great it can be. Because we want readers to feel that way about our stuff, don't we?
So what writers intimidate you? What books have you held up as examples, as books you use to inspire you?
Labels: Gunner's Grumblings (Marnee)