How much time you spend doing the above varies with the book. Some books you never really take off the writer’s hat.
But some books? Pure magic. You don’t notice the writing because you’re transported, and suddenly you’re honestly caring about the characters, laughing with them, getting angry on their behalves. Then suddenly you realize what’s happened and you flip back a couple of pages and attempt to figure out how they did that.
This usually results in massive writer’s envy, and yeah, I feel it. A lot.
The most recent book to turn me green (in a good way, as I happen to look fair to decent in green) is Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me. Even though I don’t read a lot of M/F romance, I picked this one up after catching a recommendation for it at Jen’s Den.
My first reaction was that this was the most hilarious thing I’d read in ages.
My second was a liking for Minerva, one of the main characters, because she was an actuary and tended to break a lot of things down into stats. I had just finished the rough draft for One Shot, and my character Nick is a numbers guy, so I felt like he suddenly had a sister. Sort of. Okay not really.
Then came a few moments of uneasiness. What if Crusie’s numbers gal was more interesting than my numbers guy?
Note: While I fully realize that there is no comparing the two stories—different characters, different plots, different tones, different styles, different genres AND subgenres—this in no way alleviates the uneasiness. Such is the nature of writer’s envy.
And finally, because Bet Me IS such a great book, I slid right back into enjoyment. It had been a while since I read a story that made me laugh out loud. Even when you’re green, you gotta appreciate that.
So am I still a little insecure when I compare myself to Crusie? You bet. But that’s a good thing. If I thought I was the best, how the hell would I ever get better? The trick is to not let those insecurities freeze me up. I learn from other writers, but I don’t discount what’s enjoyable about MY writing. Also, I’ve learned to celebrate the good news when it comes my way.
For instance, One Shot being accepted by Loose Id.
Yep, that really happened. How cool am I? ;)