Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Envious of Other Writers? Jealous?

I am not generally envious of the success of other writers, though there are a few -- James Patterson, Tom Clancy -- whom I dislike for essentially turning themselves into corporations and churning out titles under their name, and a few -- Stephen King, John Grisham, Dan Brown -- of whom I think, "Why not take a breather for awhile and leave some space for the rest of us, you frakking billionaires?"

And though I long ago decided that I would never be a literary star, I once in awhile find myself envious of the deftness and beauty of the craft of other writers. For example, Michael Chabon, whose The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay I finished yesterday. Even though I find him a bit ponderous at times, he's an authentic genius and a great storyteller. But it's his way with words that makes me green-eyed with envy (or is it jealousy?). I could cite numerous examples, but one that struck me was his description of something giving off an "anenome flutter." Think of that image: the languid, delicate, subtle motion of an anenome fluttering in the currents of a lagoon.

I don't think I would ever, in my best writing, be able to create such an evocative wordplay as Chabon did simply by attaching "anenome" as an adjective to "flutter."

Sure wish I could.

13 comments:

  1. Yeah...me, too. Sometimes I think my writing is brilliant and then others...well, I think about flushing my work down the toilet.

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  2. I can't write brilliant. If I do it's a fluke. I just try to write good. And I don't mean well. Well, maybe I do. Is that good enough? Oh well.

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  3. I'm with you on that, Travener. That's one reason I don't read other people's novels while I'm writing; I inevitably try to compare writing style/skill and always come off worse.

    Plod on, we all must, I guess. The more we write, the more chance there is that we can surprise ourselves, maybe?

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  4. Frakking billionaires. ha ha ha ha

    I've heard so many good things about Michael Chabon. I've never read him, and it's for a really really stupid reason. Really. You'll agree when you hear it.

    I for some reason think that a Chabon is some type of monkey. (Is it?) And the idea of reading something by someone named after a monkey just kind of freaks me out.

    I told you.

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  5. I think with each work we write we grow and get better and with each book we read, the same. Now there are tons and tons of writers who I enjoy so much and I am so damn jealous of I can practically cry with how bad I suck when I read their books.

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  6. Donna Tartt is so amazing. She makes me feel inferior.

    Sometimes I think I am a decent writer. Then there are days like today when I want to punch myself in the face and heave my laptop at the window.

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  7. A chabon isn't a monkey, but a gibbon is an ape. I would avoid anything written by someone named Gibbons, or even Gibson. Just to be safe.

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  8. That was an amazing book. I read it a couple of years ago. He's good. And look at it this way, you won't perfect your craft by reading crap.

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  9. Too Cute - are you thinking of capuchin?

    I read The Yiddish Policeman's Union and actually wasn't too impressed.

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  10. I'm gonna have to dig out my dictionary on that one. Why do you use such big words? Ack!

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  11. I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay a few months ago and loved the writing too. Certainly there is something to be said for reading and absorbing great prose. But while I like to feed my muse across a variety of genres, Chabon's book ultimately wasn't for me - the best book I happened to read last year was Hosseini's The Kite Flyer.

    While Chabon's writing is sometimes so artistic as to call attention to itself, Hosseini's - while still rich - seemed subtler, burrowed beneath the skin, found the heart and so yielded (for me) a far more powerful story.

    So I guess I'm saying I'd love to have Chabon's grasp on language (I'd sure finish my crosswords faster!), but then to use it in a way that works for me. I loathe the idea of a reader being pulled out of my story to contemplate an anemone flutter.

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  12. I love love love beautiful writing like that, and now I want to read TAAOK&C, which has been sitting on my bookcase for years now. And I year ya - it takes me forever to think of "brilliant" descriptions - and at that rate - 10 years to write a book?

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  13. Hi.
    I've never read him, and it's for a really really stupid reason. Really. You'll agree when you hear it.
    www.GercekTavla.com

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