aqua fortis

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

There Are Books, and Then There Are BOOKS

Some books, when I sit down to read them, are so impressive or intimidating or amazing that they make me never want to write again. They make me question my entire career decisionmaking process (not that that's too difficult). Obviously, that's my problem, though, not the books' problem. It's not the author's fault that they're so awesome—in fact, I'm sure they put a ton of work into it and deserve it. Anyway. There are other books, though, that, when I sit down and start reading them, make me excited in a different way—make me want to open my notebook or my word-processing program and start writing, too. They make me eager. They make me gleeful. I'm reading one of those now: Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors. I'm only a few pages in, but I'm getting that I-want-to-write-right-now feeling.

I'm not sure what the difference is, or even if there IS one—it could be as simple as a difference in mood on my own part. Or maybe it's that the writing resonates with me in some underlying way—the style? The tone? It's hard to say. It's not as though those books that make me want to give up entirely DON'T resonate; they do. But they usually, in some way, make me feel like they're "up there" at the top of some pinnacle of awesomeness, and I'm "down here" just trying to muddle along, and when such incredible works exist, why should I bother when I could never do half as well?

And of COURSE it isn't the case that the books which make me want to eagerly start writing are not also awesome books. They're great books, too. It's very hard to put my finger on what the difference is, which is why I guess I have to assume that it's me and not the books. Does this happen to anyone else? I can't help thinking that if I could figure out what the difference is, what it is that makes some books spark that need to write, maybe I'd realize something important (or at least interesting) about my own writing.


tanita davis said...

I don't often get a feeling of "Ooh, want to write!" while I'm reading. If a book is good, I simply disappear into it -- I've never learned the knack of critical reading while reading a book I love -- books I hate, however, I'm well able to pick apart as I go.

It's only AFTER I'm finished reading a book I love that I can jot down a few thoughts: why did this appeal? How did the way the writer dealt with the character in Scenario 4 cross into something I can do with character A,B, or C in MY scenario 4? It doesn't always work -- and I have to be really careful that those types of questions don't lead me to write something derivative -- but that's what good writing inspires in me.

I think I'm missing something, though; I'm sure reading excellent work should send me to heights much higher than "how can I copy this?" but I am not that evolved yet. ;)