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Writer's Envy

I'm reading THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak and I'm having a serious case of writer's envy.

Reading is both a blessing and a curse, it seems. It's what fuels much of my writing but it can also make me stall. Puts a nasty dent in my complex. I think, gosh... how I'd love to write a book like this. And man, my book is far, far, far from ever being this awesome. Why aren't I this brilliant? Why do I even bother? Bwaaaa!

I love me a fantabulous book as much as the next reader/writer, but geez, it does sting the self-confidence a little. Or a lot.

Does everyone else deal with this? Do you have a coping mechanism? I guess I just hunker down with my writing and remind myself that I have my own unique story to tell, in a way that no one else can, and try to take comfort in that.

But I'm allowed to stick out my lip and stomp my foot a little while doing so, right?


Emily Cross said...

this always happens to me!! especially with the book thief - there should be special category of love/hate books - love to read the book but hate the writer for their talent lol

Cheryl Reif said...

This happens to me ALL the time. Meg Cabot is my current nemesis: how does she tell a great story with so many details about teen life without feeling like she's losing the story thread?

Book Thief is so incredibly beautiful, it didn't cause me envy so much as worship. I went around for weeks reading passages from it to people. The prose is complete magic.

On the plus side, one of my friends read it while starting a new novel. I can tell it influenced her writing. The book inspired her prose to be even more lyrical and beautiful--and that's the book that's garnered a revision request from an editor. Maybe it will the one that breaks her into the novel market!

So you have official permission to stomp, but don't let it get you down--maybe you'll be inspired to new heights!

Unknown said...

I just finished reading Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth and felt the exact same way.

PJ Hoover said...

It totally stings! I mope around for a bit and try to drag myself out of it.

And ditto what Beth said. Forest of Hands and Teeth did this to me.

But on the other side, it's also nice when I read something I'm not that crazy about. It shows that there are so many different taste out there.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

i have this every time i read a book! Then i go back to mine and yell "ugh this is crap". Then my hubby tells me im great and I feel better again :)

JC Falor said...

I always have this problem, too. It's nice to have the inspriation, but also can be disheartening.

If I ever read one that really makes my writing feel worthless, I go find a book to read that makes me think, "I can so do better than that!"

Casey Something said...

I've been hearing such great things about The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I can't wait to read it, but I think I'll have to put some distance between this one and that one, ha!

I just finished Howl's Moving Castle this weekend, too. I was envious of the writer's ability to show and let the reader put little things things together on their own so faithfully.

I'm so glad that you're all coming forward and admitting to the misery that is writer's envy. We can take heart in knowing it's normal!

Angie Frazier said...

Ugh, I've so been there. I deal with it by reminding myself that I've read lots of books that I *didn't* feel that jealous sting, and that sometimes makes me feel better :-) Honestly, it's just proof that I know I have room to grow as a writer.

Trisha Pearson said...

I'm going through the same thing and was actually going to blog about it in the next couple of days.

I'm writing a fantasy/adventure story for middle graders and thought it would be a good idea to re-read The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Mmmm, maybe not such a good idea. He does such a fantastic job of creating characters and coming up with bizarre twists and turns and bringing them to life. Why can't I think of stuff like that? WHY?

Robyn Campbell said...

I was having a pity party when I read your post so I'm inviting you to my bash! :)

I guess, we each have our story to tell and no one can tell it like we can. But I want to get FINISHED with the thing! UGH! :)

Casey Something said...

That's a good angle, thinking about books that weren't very good! Unfortunately, since I read mostly recommendations, that doesn't happen for me very often. : P

We could congregate for all sorts of pity parties, couldn't we? Ha!

But, hey, maybe we can all tour together someday. : p

(I can dream as much as I can stomp my foot, right?)

Lisa Nowak said...

I go through this a lot, too. I guess we all do. The thing is, there are only a few books that really make me jealous. Most of them are good and do the job, but don't make me want to rip my hair out. I remind myself that the percentage of truly awesome books is fairly small, there are a lot of mid-pack runners, and then there are some real stinkers. Running mid-pack is nothing to be ashamed of. It's where probably 80% of writers wind up.

Beyond this, I think all authors have special strengths, and we tend to envy the things we aren't particularly adept at ourselves. But we have to remind ourselves that we have our own strengths, and that other writers may be envying them. I think a lot of people don't see their strong points clearly.