Mixed Feelings: Revisiting An Old Whine

I have mixed feelings about fabulous books. The reader in me adores them, but they frighten the writer in me. I read these wonderfully, strange, imaginative, original books, and I think of my own work, which seems sad, dull and ordinary in comparison.

Sometimes I protect my work by staying away from those intimidating books. If they’re going to freeze me, if they’re going to make me flirt with quitting, then that’s what I have to do. You can make a compelling argument that this is a mistake, and there are days when I will agree with you. But this is what I have to do in order to keep writing.

In theory, reading fabulous books will only improve my game. The trouble is, fabulous books that intimidate me make me want to give up, and an unwritten book can never be better than one that’s written.

I know that part of my inability to see anything original or imaginative in my work is my deep familiarity with it. Because I live so deeply in my storyverse, it becomes another everyday world to me. I think that’s necessary — the world needs to be real to me so I can make it real to other people — but it does exact a price.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. It was just something I was thinking about, triggered by Alison Sinclair’s Darkborn, one of those books I might be too afraid to read.


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