Bitter or Better?
As a writer, have you ever read something so amazingly well written that you question all your career choices?
A book or a series that’s so well crafted, so intricate… so entirely beyond that you look at your own work and try to reason why your own drivel would even warrant a place on the author’s refrigerator?
I just did it.
Two of them, actually. One I’d read years ago, the other was new to me, but I inhaled both like I’d just come off a fast and hit a buffet line. Two whole series that have me taking a good hard look at my own work. After examining at everything in dismal resolution, I determined that I am a hack at best and a wannabe at worst. I walked by my office, over and over again, looking at my laptop in disdain. I glared at my planner full of plot bunnies. I blatantly ignored the series I have left waiting for a new installment since 2016. The further I followed these literary wonders, the more my own books looked like the badly written prose of someone who’d had no more exposure to the written word that what’s found inside a fortune cookie.
I was at a loss.
I still am.
And then I read the series’ reviews. Not everyone loved them like I did. Not everyone was mesmerized by the worlds these authors had created. Not everyone wanted to hold onto the places and the characters and never let go.
Some people hated them, in fact.
That’s when it hit me, as I prepared to pull my books out of publication. I could either be bitter about their talent and success, or I could learn from them and get better. Their stories pushed comfort zones that so many readers are insisting on now, going outside the neat little box of all enclosed HEAs, a fated pair of lovers without a triangle…quick and easy to read, wrapped in a pretty little bow. These authors wrote their stories as they appeared in their minds, testing the gritty boundaries that kept me turning the pages without worrying about how the masses may or may not approve.
That’s what I need to do.
I need to pull out all the stops. I need to get gritty. I need to write situations that have my readers gritting their teeth in frustration, but insisting on reading to see where the jagged little rabbit hole goes. I’m going to write it all. All the ugly little hiccups that make it that much more important to get the couples together. If it takes one book or seven. I’m going to get better. It’s going to get ugly.
Buckle up, Dear Reader. This is going to be a bumpy ride, but I can’t wait to see where this rabbit hole goes.