One Writer’s Journey

June 14, 2018

Apples and Oranges: Comparing Your Work with Others

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:41 am
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Study what is already in print.  Learn from the best.  A lot of what we do as writers involves reading what others have published and comparing our work to theirs.  Its a great way to see what’s already in the marketplace and also to learn new techniques.  But it can also be discouraging.

Last week a friend commented on a post that she is taking a writing class.  Everyone in the class took 15 minutes to write a piece in line with that day’s free writing assignment.  In this case, everyone included the teachers.  When it came time to share, one of the teachers read her poem aloud.  The rhythm, rhyme and meter were perfect and she wrote it in 15 minutes.  My friend was super discouraged.

“Wait a minute.  This was the teacher that made the assignment?”

“Yes.”

“I bet she didn’t do it in 15 minutes.  Even if she sat down and wrote it than and there, she’d been thinking about it.  She knew about the assignment ahead of time.”

Part of the problem with studying what is already on the market is that we end up comparing our unpublished work with someone else’s published work.  My weaknesses in the world of adult fiction include Suzanne Brockmann for her action scenes and complex plots and Sarah Addison Allen for her settings and details in magical realism.  But reading their work and getting discouraged is ridiculous.

They are multipublished in adult fiction.  I am not.

This is a published piece.  Mine is not.

Their piece has been edited and rewritten with the aid of a highly talented editor.  If I’m comparing my work-in-progress to their published work, I am once again comparing something new and raw to something published and polished.

Yes, you need to read the best work out there.  But realize what it is and what it represents in terms of experience, effort, and team work.  Learn from it but don’t let it hold you down.

–SueBE

 

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September 17, 2009

Stretch Your Wings

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:11 am
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When an editor asks me if I can do something, I always say YES and then sit down to figure it out.  When someone asks me to speak at a conference, I agree and suffer through the anxiety that precedes saying “thank you” to the audience and falling into my seat.  So when our church choir master asked me to sit with the altos, I nodded knowing that the next symptoms would be numbness and sweating.  I sat through church last Sunday in a state of anxiety, wondering if I could do this without throwing up.  I even whined to him about it afterwards.  “No problem, I’ll get you a bucket.” 

That’s pretty much what I expected from him.  He’s a performer so he’s got at least a passing familiarity with stage fright.  It wasn’t enough to get me off the hook and I knew that when I whined to him.  I needed someone who would pat me on the back and then give me a shove.  A kind shove.  A well meaning shove.  But a nice sturdy one.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself through some uncomfortable territory.   It will help you grow in your work.  Just be sure to have a writing buddy somewhere nearby.  A buddy who will pat you on the shoulder when you freak out but will still give you the push you need to stretch your wings.  It’s the only way to soar.

–SueBE

PS.  A special thanks to the Ladies of the Gordian Knot and my Florissant critique group, both of who nudge me along in my writing as well as Dan, Felicia, Lynn and Tracy, who push me along in other aspects of my life.

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