Monday, November 30, 2009

Inspiration? Or Derailment?

By Ali Cross
(Originally posted on Ali's blog, July 13th, 2008)

Sometimes when I read a good book it depresses me.

Shouldn't it inspire me? Encourage me to keep on writing, so that my book too, will one day inspire others?

Instead, it makes me feel like I could never write that well, or make a book that ... complete.

I was mulling over it all and then talking (because really, if I'm not reading or writing, I'm talking, right?) with David about it and I had an epiphany.

I realized that when I read a great book, I believe that the author just went 'blah' and out came a great book. Ta da! Happy Birthday! But after all I've learned about writing, I've got to change that fallacy in my mind. That is simply not how it happens.

First a baby book is born: The story. The author/parent, coddles the baby book and takes care of it. The author/parent is so full of hope for the future of their little baby book, but what it may become is still an unknown, still yet to be discovered.

The baby book then enters toddler stage: The author/parent patiently teaches the little book how to walk, how to talk, and glories in their newfound independance. There is so much joy at this stage! Our hope for our baby book is somewhat realized as we come to see just where our little book may go. What an exciting time! But still, no one would question whether our little book was ready to be out on their own, oh no, not yet! There is still so much to learn, though all the potential is clearly there.

Next, the fun but trying kid stage of our book: So much learning, trial and error, but this is where the rules learned in toddlerhood are put to the test. Does our baby book walk and talk just like we taught it to do? When left on its own, does it touch the hearts of its readers the way we had hoped? Does it tell the story we taught it to tell as well as we had hoped and imagined?

Then, through the teenage years: Our darling books may rebel, and we might grow a few gray hairs, but in the end it will all be for the good of our book. In the end we'll have created and raised a book to be proud of.

And so when it has finally reached full adulthood, that is when we can send our baby book out into the world knowing it is ready. It is full grown. It represents our best hopes and dreams and tells the story we taught it to tell.

For some, this raising up of a story can go smoothly, quickly, perhaps be completed in a year or less. For others, somewhat (or a lot) longer. Nevertheless, it is never possible for a baby book to be born and to walk away from the proverbial womb, ready to live a life of its own. No, there are always countless hours spent raising that book, pouring our hearts and soul and all our hopes into its every word.

So, I've been derailed for the past few days having just read a great book that swallowed up all of my own creativity. But now I'm feeling a bit more hopeful and plan to get back to my little book tomorrow. I figure I'm somewhere in the kid years with The Devil's Daughter ... perhaps it will one day be that glorious young adult I can send out into the world knowing that she will take with her everything I hope to share with my readers.


Keith Fisher said...

Well said.

Jenn Wilks said...

Talk about Hallelujah! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this. I have to say, too, that I was literally laughing out loud about the idea of these great authors just popping out a novel and everyone cheering - Happy Birthday! because it's so great in its rough draft form. :-D

Mary said...

I sometimes feel the same way. The Hunger Games for example bottomed me out. It is so fantastic - I just know I'll never write like that, but I don't have to. I just need to do my best and write like me. Oh and put in the time.

Darvell Hunt said...

Some books I read for enjoyment, while others I read because I want to know how they crafted their story.

I write differently than many writers and I feel I can accept that. I try not to compare myself to other writers, but rather the writer I used to be.

Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't.