Saturday, February 26, 2011

Put Me to Shame

Here's the truth. I have a love/hate relationship with GOOD books. I'm talking about writing where prose is rattled off without effort (seemingly). Prose that contains poetry and poignancy and depth and subtle symbolism. Prose that's tight and free of cliches, free of adverbs and over-telling and too-long descriptions that bring a plot to a standstill. Prose that's brilliant - that makes me re-read sentences and absorb them.

I "hate" these books because they put me to shame. I read them and think, "Aww, man. I can never be THAT good. Not in a million years."

But then, something else starts to happen when I read these books. Soon, I shove away the self-defeating thought and replace it with another one: "Hmm. I don't know if I'll ever be that good ---- but maybe I can TRY."

Reading GOOD books makes me want to do better, be better. To raise that bar as high as I can lift it, then train and stretch and jump and jump until maybe, just maybe, I can reach it, too. My own personal bar. And, the thing is, my bar is different than someone else's, because we're each different writers. My bar isn't that incredible author's bar. It's MY bar now. And because of her, it's higher.

So, thank you, good books. Thank you, incredible authors, for stretching me, challenging me. For making me want to be a better writer.

**my current good book of shame is: Juliet, by the wonderful Anne Fortier - highly recommended. What's yours?


  1. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. I want to be able to write as beautifully someday.

  2. Sounds like a good one - I'll have to check her out!