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Old 12-28-2012, 02:23 AM   #1
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Jealous of Another Author's Work?

I read a lot, and I write a lot. Now usually, reading a lot motivates me to write a lot. I read something, put it down, and think, "Hey, I can do that! Let's GIT 'ER DONE! EUREKA!" and then proceed to hammer out a few thousand words on my WIP. But then there are some authors whose work makes you feel completely inadequate as a writer. For example, I just finished reading THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, and I can honestly say that I do not think I could ever write on that level. Just the constant, sharp-as-a-tack dialogue, the layers upon layers of metaphor and symbolism, the fact that there's a quotable passage on almost every page.... I appreciate authors that are so gifted with the written word, but at the same time, it's intimidating. Almost like I want to throw up my hands and go, "Whelp, I can never do that, why bother?"

Anyone else experience those same moments of author-envy? If so, what stories/authors? Just curious
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:02 AM   #2
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If I really liked the book, I'm likely to get jealous of at least some aspects of the writing.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:05 AM   #3
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Happens all the time. But especially Laini Taylor. I might one day come up with a breathtaking, riveting plot, but I doubt I'd ever be able to make sentences that pretty.

...and on the flip side, I often have "how the hell did this get past an editor?" moments, usually about writing style. Case in point, the book I'm reading right now. Every third word is "was". I swear to god...
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:17 AM   #4
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If I really liked the book, I'm likely to get jealous of at least some aspects of the writing.
Ditto.

I've only been jealous of John Green's debut. Everything else he's written has rendered an astounding "meh" from me. And when I read The Cheese Monkeys, I realized Green's work wasn't as great as I previously thought. Everything is subjective, after all.

Just practice. And practice. And practice. Eventually, you'll get "quotable" status as well.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:25 AM   #5
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Happens all the time. But especially Laini Taylor. I might one day come up with a breathtaking, riveting plot, but I doubt I'd ever be able to make sentences that pretty.
Ugh, I'm reading Days of Blood and Starlight right now and seriously considering packing it in and hanging up my writing pens. Hopefully I'll get over that soonish.
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:38 AM   #6
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Happens all the time. But especially Laini Taylor. I might one day come up with a breathtaking, riveting plot, but I doubt I'd ever be able to make sentences that pretty.
RIGHT. Her style is so diametrically opposed to mine, but I found myself wishing I wrote prettier. Even when it was too much, it was all still so pretty.

"Her wild, timapni heart" I COULD NEVER THINK OF THAT.

Anyway, I do occasionally, but it's generally because the way they write is so different from me that I wonder if I'm doing it all wrong. But it helps to read some of your old stuff. I was a pretty shitty writer about five years ago and I hope, five years from now, I'll think the same.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:02 AM   #7
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Missesdash, you don't necessarily have to write pretty to write a good story. Really, when the plot is riveting enough you just have to.... not be atrocious. Or not be so atrocious it pulls the reader out of the story. THG was tell-not-show, and you could make a drinking game with all the adverbs in HP. Did it matter to the millions of readers? Nope. Are they still great books? Yes!
So nobody throw your laptops out the window yet.
And you're right. I read my stuff from five years ago and cringe. Then again you now have fanfic writers in their early teens getting book deals, so what the hell do I know ;-
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:07 AM   #8
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Ugh, I hate pretty writers. My writing is so ugly...
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:12 AM   #9
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I am not the best writer when it comes to grammar. I read books all the time and think, "why can't I write this well?"
Then there are books that I kick myself for not thinking of first. It never makes me want to quit. It encourages me to write better the next time I sit down with my WIP.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:39 AM   #10
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I don't get jealous of the good writers. The ones who write snappy prose, riveting stories, those who are established and well-known. They have a talent I admire and I think I can learn a little something from each and every one of them, not so much in terms of aping what they do, but looking at how they set up the scenes, move them along, show and not tell (which I still struggle with).

There are, however, writers who are well-known and I wonder how in the hell did they become famous? I realize famous and good are two different terms and sometimes they don't necessarily run together, but certain writers make me wonder.

All I can do is to try harder and hone what talent I have.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:46 AM   #11
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Jealous? Hope so. One of my favorite feelings is finding a book or tale that makes me wish I'd written it. Not because it made a dime or two, but because it hit the dead center in my writer's soul - Brilliant imaginings, lovely turns of phrase, compelling and fresh characterizations... bring 'em on. It opens the brain to "what's next?"
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:50 AM   #12
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I love John Green. I'm a huge fan of his sentence rhythms. I think he has fewer omg-wow strengths than some of my favorite writers, but he's got fewer weaknesses, too.

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Missesdash, you don't necessarily have to write pretty to write a good story. Really, when the plot is riveting enough you just have to.... not be atrocious.
Pretty prose is just one small subset of good, impressive prose. Your phrasing kind of makes it look like you're equating the two.
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:14 AM   #13
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I get jealous when I read a book that's super unique, like UNWIND. The whole time I was reading that I was thinking, "@#%&! I should have come up with this!!!"
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:43 PM   #14
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When I get jealous, I plan to eat the author's heart to gain their powers.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:29 PM   #15
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Ugh, I hate pretty writers. My writing is so ugly...
I usually do too. But something about Laini Taylor...I think it's because she's so deadly precise while being flowery. I rarely see that. Flowery usually goes along with abstract and the similes and metaphors are all thrown at the wall with the hope some will stick. It's a very admirable mix, imo.
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:06 PM   #16
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A well-written book makes me admire the author's skill and check out what else he/she has written. I don't become jealous, but I do let it push me to do new things with my writing. It's not a conscious thing either but more like a collective piece in all that I've learned. I don't usually read other authors beyond my CPs while I'm drafting a book, but I gobble books up when I'm in revision mode or during the short interim between projects.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:07 PM   #17
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RIGHT. Her style is so diametrically opposed to mine, but I found myself wishing I wrote prettier. Even when it was too much, it was all still so pretty.
Same here. I have to keep reminding myself "You don't write like her. Do your own thing." But when I go back to my writing, I feel like a kid painstakingly scrawling a story in pencil on that shitty yellow school paper.

Am actually taking notes as I read Blood & Starlight. Trying to use this as a learning experience rather than an ego crushing thing.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:29 PM   #18
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There are some books that make me just want to give up, but I don't know if I'm jealous, necessarily. More full of admiration and self-doubt. Ender's Game is one of those. Regardless of what you may think of OSC the man, he can tell a story and make you really feel for and connect with characters.

C.S. Lewis is another. He understood people and the human condition so well. Talk about layers of meaning. Every time I read one of his books, I see something new, some symbolism I previously missed. Then I throw my hands in the air because I know I could never tell a story so beautifully.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:00 PM   #19
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People who can tell a big story in not very many words, and still include lots of trivial shit (because I love trivial shit). Grace freakin' Paley. Joey Comeau, particularly ONE BLOODY THING AFTER ANOTHER. Chuck Palahniuk. Hannah Moscowitz.

Then there's a special jealousness-circle for playwrights because I had to give that up (at least for now). It includes pretty much everybody who's even trying in the outer circle, spiralling inwards to people like Tony Kushner and Daniel MacIvor and Sheila Callaghan who I just can't even stand existing on the same planet as sometimes.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:00 PM   #20
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I'm a jealous person. Was soo jealous of the pretty girls with perfect skin, eyes, hair...that sort of thing. Now I'm jealous of the authors that have pretty covers, great publishers, lots of reviews. SEEING IT ON THE SHELF. Writers that are prolific.

Then I think everyone's jealous of someone else at some point in their lives. Like I have two awesome kids and someone who can't get pregnant might be jealous of that. So there's things everyone has that someone may want. Then I forget about it and move on with what I want.

When I first started writing, it was just a few poems here and there, then I posted them online and joined a critique group. I read other member's poems with such joy, and definitely jealousy. Some had prose like an angel. My goal was to get one published (like they did), eventually I did too. When I first wrote a book, all I wanted was to be published (like other members were), and eventually I did. Now my goal is to get in an actual book store, and I will eventually (hopefully). If I try hard enough, goodness ya think I would, right? And I know for a fact I will get jealous along the way though. lol But it keeps driving me to want more. I think that's a natural feeling and a good feeling we should all have. Just as long as it doesn't cripple you from moving forward. I've read some stories on the net where it made writers stop living their dream. Now that's what's sad the most.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:12 PM   #21
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I don't get jealous of books. I just read a book that I loved the writing style. I've tried to learn from it and put my own spin on it. That was fun

On the flip side, I do (sadly) get jealous of other writers' careers lol. I think it's normal. Just makes me work that much harder
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:22 PM   #22
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I try to admire others and not compare my writing to them. The fact that I don't write Important, Meaningful stories full of symbolism and rhythm and whatnot once got the better of me, and I stopped writing for a few years. I look at it this way. Do I love John Green and Toni Morrison and others that I could be jealous of? Yes, absolutely. But I also love other books that some may label as fluff. All I can do is write what is in me and hope that it entertains or reaches someone else.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:56 PM   #23
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Happens to me all of the time. I read something amazing, despair, have an imaginary conversation with the author about how I'll show them while waving my fist dramatically (fully aware they don't know me) and then find everything they have ever because good reading is good reading.
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:10 PM   #24
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Jealous. Not really...

I admire a lot of writers for different reasons, such as their gift of world building, character building or the way they shift smoothly between scenes. I admire some for the complexities of their stories, or simplicity of same. And yes, I admire many for their gift of grammar choices and usage.

I don't think I have ever been jealous of another writer, but I have thought on occasion that I do better than some writers on certain aspects of my writing, compared to theirs.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:28 AM   #25
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Yes of course. I think it's human to be jealous of someone else. Maybe not. But I think you just improve and improve and get better and... yeah.
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