On the Page


If you’re a writer, you get various kinds of inspiration from the works of other writers. Just the fact that someone had enough persistence to sit down and write 50,000 words or more and another brand of persistence that allowed her to keep on going in the face of rejection to the point where someone told her yes, is inspirational in itself. Then there’s what some folks might call the negative kind of inspiration , as in something so mediocre that you say to yourself, “Self, you can do better than that” (even though, at the time, maybe you couldn’t). Most of the time what we read is something good, though. We rely on reviews and word-of-mouth and previous experience with an author to make sure we don’t waste our time with the mediocre (or worse) stuff. And that well-above-average writing is inspirational, too. Without trying to be copycats, we writers take note of what worked in the story–not just the storytelling, but all the nuts and bolts things that transform an idea into a tale that makes a reader feel a part of the characters’ experiences and demands that pages continue to be turned. Finally, there’s the truly exceptional book–so good that we suspend our critical pick-apart efforts and just read, just enjoy the story. For me the only unfortunate part of reading something like this, is  realizing as I proceed through it and get to the end that I’ll probably never write anything that good. But it gives us all something to shoot for, doesn’t it.

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