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Writing as the Underdog

March 28, 2012

So I’m in a bit of a slum today. I’m usually quite happy and optimistic within realistic boundaries, but today I’ve mentally punched myself in the stomach.

So I’ve felt a trend within the books I’ve been reading. I read Ender’s Game, and thought “Wow! That’s a cool concept!”, took a small part of how the book worked, and taped it to one of my own. It made it a lot better. I also read The Witch Watch, and really loved and felt inspired by that too, with its unique characters and intelligent writing. I’ve made it quite far through Family History Pt. 1, and really enjoyed how each character felt like characters, as if they were actual people with actual motives and goals – which, for a book which seems to be all about people interacting with each other, is an important point!

I recently also bought Hunger Games as well, and dug my nose into it this morning. I only got to the start of Chapter 3, but I already loved the setting, the dynamics of the world they live in, and how the author managed to make me loathe the Hunger Game and its barbaric nature within merely two chapters. I loved it so much, I felt inspired, and wanted to make something like it.

That’s when I realised that I’m a writer, too.

I’m currently writing a novel. It’s got a good idea behind it, and I love it. Recently, I’ve started getting lazy with my writing. I didn’t know why, originally – I thought the novelty had just wore off. Today, I realised that I was subconsciously comparing my works with the ones I have read, and was finding my own severely lacking. My story doesn’t have the unique characters and smart writing that Witch Watch has; it doesn’t have the awesome character development of Enders Game; it doesn’t have the dynamic, alive characters that constantly fight, love, and kill one another which makes Family History what it is; it doesn’t have a unique, inspiring setting like Hunger Games. I suddenly felt horrible about my writing. It was as if I was preparing for a spelling bee, learning hard and complex words such as ‘knight’ and ‘phobia’, ready to go up on the stage with the other contenders to find that they knew how to spell ‘Constantinople’ and ‘Claustrophobia’ without missing a beat. I basically felt like I was bringing a pair of knuckle dusters to a gun fight.
It sucks, but I have to keep going. I’m not going to get any better or more confident in my writing if I just stop. As long as I encourage critique, and critique myself as harshly, I’m sure I’ll make some sort of improvement in my style within the next few years. In fact, I should be glad that I feel so bad about other people doing it better than I, because it goes to show that I actually give a damn about my writing. I don’t give half a fuck that most software engineers are better coders than I; goes to show where my loyalties lie! Feeling bad also shows that I’m not the kind of guy who goes “Harrumph! My writing style is superior to all! Bow to me!”, but I’m willing to actually learn tricks of the trade and improve on myself. That’s another good sign.
Well, I suppose I gotta get on with my novel. I feel crap about my writing style and my odds vs. the world, which makes it the ideal time to get some done! 🙂
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