Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Fricassee

So I'm going to share something vulnerable--something that I couldn't effectively share outside the World of Writers.  (Because, let's face it: nobody else understands!)

(Disclaimer: I am eating a Christmas cupcake whilst typing this, which may or may not have an effect on my writing.)

I'm pretty sure we've all experienced that moment when, while reading a novel we're really enjoying, it hits us that we could never write something quite so brilliant.  We couldn't plot it, couldn't execute it, couldn't even think it up in the first place.  And when we begin that self-deprecating comparison game, we spiral downward.

Most of the time, we spring back again and continue along our merry way.  But it still doesn't feel very good while it's happening.

(If you tell me that this has never happened to you, I will not believe you. No, I will not.)

So, yes, I've had these moments over the years.  "Moment" may not even be the right word, because it's often a lingering sense of "I can't write worth a chunk of deer dung" that lasts for days.  It doesn't diminish my enjoyment of the novels that are sparking the response, but it does diminish my enjoyment of being a writer, if only for a little while.

Not good, right?  Normal, for sure.  But not good.

Well, something amazing happened a few days ago.  I was re-reading one of my favorite author's novels, and I found myself thinking, I WRITE AS WELL AS THIS.

And when I realized I'd had the thought, I fell over.

Okay, not really.  But ARE YOU WITH ME HERE?  I have NEVER had a thought like this.  Admittedly, I have sometimes read something that was so awful I had the opposite thought--as in, good-grief-how-did-this-crapling-slip-through-the-net--but mostly the books I am fortunate enough to crack open aren't craplings.  And the treasured few are, well, really good.

So for me to have this moment of I CAN DO THE SAME THING was huge.  Five years ago, I wouldn't even have been able to conceive this thought.  Heck, even a year ago I wasn't anywhere near having this sort of experience.  So, naturally, I didn't trust myself.  I'd only read three chapters when the thought came, so I told myself I'd keep reading to see if my opinion changed.

It didn't.  I STILL FEEL LIKE I CAN WRITE AS WELL AS THIS OTHER PERSON.

I'm not sure if this means that I've "arrived" emotionally (wouldn't that be nice?), or if it's actually an honest assessment of my writing.  Of course we're always evolving, always growing as we write.  Of course I'm insanely excited about my current project (aren't we always?).  But something feels different, and it's a good sort of different.

Probably I should stop trying to analyze this and simply enjoy it.  It isn't every day that I am so far above self-deprecation.  It isn't every day that I give myself real credit for doing something well.

I'm not saying my story is "better than so-and-so's".  I'm not preening and gloating.  I'm...well, sanguine.  And that's an unusual place for me.

I think I'll stay here for a while.

I wanted to share this with you because I trust that you'll understand.  You'll get it.  And maybe you'll have your own moments of self-confidence to share in the comment box (which, of course, is what I really want).

I know that my journey will continue to experience the ups and downs that are an inherent part of this writer thing.  But this up is a huge one, and it's definitely some sort of turning point.  What it's turning toward, I have yet to know.

Thanks for listening.  And maybe smiling and nodding a bit.  Writing is hard!  But being a writer is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me.

I hope you feel the same way!


28 comments:

  1. Yay for you!

    And yeah, I've totally felt this way. Both ways actually. My "I will never write this well" moment came after watching Dark Knight. (That's right, dear Authoress: BATMAN did it to me :-).

    A couple years later, I watched another Chris Nolan film -- Inception -- and although my thought wasn't exactly yours, I remember coming out of there thinking, "I can't write this well...BUT I WILL."

    I don't know why the change, but it felt pretty good :-)

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  2. I have yet to find a work comparable to my own, but I've been immersed in a WIP that has been coming out very quickly.

    Same sort of sentiment - if you had told me 1 year ago what I'd be working on, what risks I'd be attempting, I would have told you were being ridiculous because I'd never think I could do it.

    It feels good - rewarding, being able to say YES I CAN DO THIS. I AM a decent writer.

    Finishing this year off strong!

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  3. Adam -- I am buying you Batman therapy sessions for Christmas. It's okay. You'll think clearly again. :)

    Messi -- YAY for a strong finish to the year!

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  4. Right on. I hope to read your book one day!

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  5. The only Batman therapy I need is to block out the 1997 movie Batman and Robin. *shudders*

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  6. LOL Adam! If you would have had therapy sooner, you wouldn't have been silly enough to watch that in the first place.

    Katie -- Thanks!!

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  7. Mazel tov!

    I dream of having that moment. I've already had the "I can write better than this dreck" experience. I'm still waiting on the "I can write as well as this" one.

    Something to look forward to...

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  8. The 'I can write better than this' came the first time I threw a book across the room. (Or at least I can write better endings. That person had no idea.) It was... cathartic.

    And so far, my moments of extreme jealousy have been largely confined to specific things I wouldn't dare try to do at this point-- not because I'm not ready, but because I don't have a plot that calls for it.

    But I've yet to have that 'I'm as good as them' moment. Someday...

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  9. That's wonderful! Good for you, Authoress.:)

    And I'm happy to say that I do know what you're talking about, because I've reached a similar point just within the past year -- it's something I mentioned in my own blog this summer.

    I've been writing for many years now (I started writing my first novel when I was just a kid). I have extremely high standards, and from the beginning I compared my stuff to the 'sophisticated' adult authors my parents were reading.

    And I've finally started seeing that even in my first drafts the writing sounds like 'those kind of books'. Though I may never be quite as brilliant as the writers I admire the most, at least I don't think anyone would say I was nuts for saying my books fit in the same category!

    And most important of all, I'm now very confident that as long as I put the time in, I can do justice to all the story ideas I have, and make them into the books I've always wanted them to be. And that feels pretty amazing. :)

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  10. What an awesome feeling. Congrats on your happy thoughts. My favorite happy thought came while proofing a segment of my current MS and thinking Wow, that's amazing. I can't believe I wrote that! Forgetfulness is surprisingly sometimes a good thing. It's always nice to get an ego boost.

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  11. This is why I read your blog. It's so refreshing to sit down and read a post knowing that there's a good chance that I'm going to read about something that feels like it's coming straight out of my head/heart! I've not yet had a big a-ha moment like this, but there have been times that I've put my work-in-progress down so I could escape the bad feelings and focus on something else. When I go back to it I always wonder why I ever trash-talked myself in the first place. It's good. It's mine. I'm happy!

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  12. Shameless attempt to hide behind the cupcake.

    More seriously, I experienced that when I read a famous work by someone whose insights on how to write I found very helpful. I realized I could write better than he did in that novel.

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  13. Thank you for this post. So often, as we try to *become* "real" authors, we are reminded of how steep the mountain is to climb, how unlikely, how difficult. Yet, there are these moments, whether it be "I can write as well as this," or "Wow! That scene I just wrote was amazing!" or whatever, that really make us feel, deep down, that there is a chance.

    For me, it was a beta-reader calling me in tears, because she felt so strongly for the plights of my characters. Moments like this feed my soul when I get down on myself, or struggle for words.

    Thanks again, for sharing.

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  14. Oh yeah. I've had those same moments. "I'll never write this well." And "How did this **** get published?" Unfortunately, I have not yet had the aha moment when I think I write as well as a favorite author....but maybe someday. Thanks!

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  15. Dear Authoress, I love your post today. Yes, this is something that is worth celebrating!!!! Yay for you!

    This year, I feel like I'm finally 'getting it'. I've had some really supportive, yet tough crit partners that have called me out on my poorer quality stuff. And I've let the crits sit and marinate. Then, on a run/walk, ideas come and I KNOW how to make it better.

    I was doing a quick read through of my MS a month ago - a continuity edit. I kept laughing and groaning over in my reading corner and finally my husband asked, "What are you reading that is so good?"

    I answered, "My story! I love it! It is so funny. Omigoodness, I can't wait to read this book!"

    He gave me a strange look and finally said, "Great."

    It took me a moment before I realized what I had said about my own story. It was weird, yet I had spoken from my heart. It was amazing and very liberating.

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  16. Good for you!

    I've felt both ways, and the second one is new for me, too.

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  17. Yay for happy moments! I am slowly inching my way into that space. For a while I've held onto the happy thought that I feel like on the sentence level I *do* write as well as one of my favorite authors, and that really helps keep me going. But in terms of a whole book and plot...not quite there yet, but I feel like I am actually moving toward that place.

    And yes, positive reactions from others can also be such great boosts. Last year I wrote a short story and had the courage to read it out to my husband. He actually started talking back at one of the characters and I felt *so* happy!

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  18. I hope you get to stay in that spot for a long, long time.

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  19. I've felt the same a few times. What I recognize now, and appreciate more, are the really awesome books that make me stop and think how wonderful it is to be a reader and not just a writer. When I read a great book, it gives me goosebumps and makes me grateful for excellent writers who know how to tell a story. I wish there were more of them and someday I hope to count myself among their numbers.

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  20. I've never had that thought or feeling I write as well as this. What a wonderful Christmas present you gave yourself. Or your muse gave you.

    I've read so many how to write books even one sentence I write I think is dung. So I'm very excited for you and you give me hope.

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  21. I've felt both ways. I suppose the key with the first is to try to turn it into motivation to do better. As for the second, I've not yet experienced it with a favorite book or author, only with books that I've thought, "How the hell did this ever get published?" while reading them.

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  22. I really love this post because like Stacey said up there, we are all trying to become "real" authors in this battle, and those moments where we see other authors that write just as well as we do, well, they help us to see that our goal is achievable. Thank you, Authoress, for sharing this and giving me a little glimmer of hope for my writing.

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  23. Congratulations! I've definitely had the moments of "OMG, I will NEVER be able to be this good" but, other than a little admiration for myself as I editted, I'm definitely not there yet.

    So, again, congrats!

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  25. I think most people who have decided to try writing have had a "I can write this good!" moment at a bookstore.

    (A voice from the other side of the shelf: "That's 'I can write this WELL!'" Ah, shaddap over there.)

    On the other hand, you could take someone like Neil Gaiman, put him in front of a keyboard with oven mitts on his hands and a steel bucket on his head, and start pounding on the bucket with a ball-peen hammer, and he would still be able to write better than I could on my best day.

    I'm cool with that.

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