Is it just me, or am I the only writer that suffers from writer envy? Am I the only one who thinks that every other writer’s work is better than mine? Am I all by myself, feeling like, well, like rice pudding in a world of tiramisu?
While I’m being candid, let me make one more appalling confession.
I don’t like to read much. Writers are supposed to read voraciously, so that’s tantamount to being a lawyer who doesn’t like to talk much.
It’s not that I read nothing, but I prefer non-fiction, preferably theological tomes. In my misspent youth, I devoured romances, sometimes reading two Harlequins a day. Later, married with children, I had little time to read. I’d like to think I was living my own Harlequin romance with my own studly hero. Yes, I’d very much like to think that.
But time constraints no longer exist, so neither does that excuse. The sad truth is that as soon as I read one page, perhaps only one sentence of a book, I instantly realize it’s far superior to anything I’ll ever create. Doubt sets in; discouragement and despair quickly follow. (See my blog about The Eternal Pessimist to see where this usually ends up.)
Yet somehow, despite my neurotic insecurity, despite this crippling lack of self-confidence, I continue to write. Which mystifies me. I keep trying to think of a great idea that will become the next Gone With the Wind, or To Kill a Mockingbird. (There’s nothing insecure about my dreams!)
But where do those great ideas come from? That has to be the most frequent question a writer is asked. And I’d really like to know the answer. I know of one Avalon author who has written over 50 books. Fifty books! She publishes about 3 or 4 a year! I’ve written four. Over the course of 20 years. And the first was a memoir, which, according to a famous author of literary mysteries, is not worth counting.
“Anyone can write a memoir,” she once said. I’m not so sure that’s entirely true, but I see her point. A memoir is your own life story. The plot, the characters, the story is already there. You don’t have to build it line by excrutiating line, pull it together out of bits and pieces, and labor over plot points, character intricacies, and black moments. You just have to write it down.
At any rate, I figure that if Im going to write 50 books in my lifetime, I’ll either have to write faster, or live another 329 years.
Excuse me, I have another 5,000 words to write before supper.