It's time for the July edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Here are the co-hosts for this month:
A new feature this month is a question everyone is supposed to answer in their posts. Here's the question: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?
The most memorable compliment I've received came from a reader on Goodreads. She compared my short story "Silver Rain" to an O. Henry story. Considering how I struggle with short stories, that's a huge compliment.
While it's wonderful when a reader compares you to a highly regarded author, comparing your works to other books can make you feel inadequate. For example, I read Naomi Novik's Uprooted this weekend. I found the main character quite sympathetic, the world-building details convincing, and the plot gripping enough to make me take the time to read 400+pages in less than 24 hours. (I can't always take the time to devour books like that anymore.) After reading something like that, the rough draft of my current WIP feels inadequate, with weak verbs and little description.
How do I cope with comparisons? I remind myself that it's not fair to compare a rough draft with a finished work (because for some reason, one always compares your worst against someone else's best). In a first draft, I'm still feeling out the basic plot, so actions and dialogue take priority. Once I have a better sense of the scene, I go back in and layer in description. Oddly enough, it's easier for me not to compare my finished books with someone else's. There will always be things I will think of post-publication, but I'm less tempted to revise those works (probably because I'm in the middle of another project by then.)
If anything, one should learn from what you read, both what works and what doesn't. Every book is unique, meant to appeal to a different audience. I think that's why it's so hard for me to pick a favorite book. Enjoy them all for what they are, and don't try to force them into being something different.
If you're an author, what's the best thing someone has said about one of your books? What's the best thing you might say about someone else's work? Feel free to share in the comments below.