Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jennifer Crusie is a great writer. Crap.

One of the drawbacks of being a writer is that you’re never again able to read for the pure fun of it. No matter the book, a part of you will analyze sentence structure, character growth, plot development. Chances are pretty good that you’ll get sidetracked once or twice with how you would have turned that phrase or twisted that plot. Inevitably, you compare your writing skills to theirs and try to figure out how you measure up.

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? ;)

7 comments:

JenB said...

Yay, so glad you loved Bet Me! :) Jennifer Crusie is an amazing writer. I love her books for the entertainment value, but I love her writing even more for the technical aspects. Jennifer Crusie is a very technical writer. While I haven't loved all her characters or even all her stories, I can't fault her technique. Every word is intentional. She doesn't put anything into a story that isn't intended to be there. Period. If it's in there, it has meaning. Plus she interweaves these gorgeous threads throughout the stories...the "This one" theme in Bet Me is the best example. *sigh* Fabulous. I don't think I've found a better technical writer in mainstream romance. I could teach classes just on her technique.

Aaaaand...that's enough geekiness. I got carried away! LOL

HUGE congrats on One Shot getting accepted! :)

Rowan McBride said...

This is the only book of Crusie's I've read so far, but I agree she's excellent at weaving themes throughout a story. Loved that aspect of "Bet Me." :)

JenB said...

If it makes you feel any better, she's a university professor and actually has high-level degrees in language. So she's not just a writer. ;)

Sarah said...

She is cool. I think the book of hers I enjoyed the most is Crazy For You, a re reader for me! :)

Rowan McBride said...

@JenB - Oddly enough, that does help a little bit. ;)

@Sarah - Thanks for the rec! Will def put it on my TBR list.

WarriorItagaki said...

Hey Rowannn which one of your titles is coming out the soonest? Oh and Im really excited about "One shot" coming to Loose id. Damn you for starting me on muscle growth. Its so much fun though.

Rowan McBride said...

@WarriorItagaki - As far as completed books go, "One Shot" will most likely be the next one out. I'm working on Chapter 6 of "Michael Finally Grows Up" right now, so hopefully I'll be able to post that by the end of the week.

Muscle growth IS fun. :)

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