Books on bookshelves have always been wonderful and intimidating. They stare at me with deadly smiles.
On one hand, I’m glad they exist. I want them to pull me away from reality. They can take me anywhere away from here. I can find a lullaby in another’s worries. Sounds strange, but it works every time.
On the other hand, they’re deadly. I study their words, their sentence structure, and their plot. I learn how they introduce and kill their characters. I understand why certain details get told. And I also compare them to my writing.
Does my story introduce characters in the same way? How does my plot compare to theirs? Am I killing off this character right?
Those are dangerous questions though. I shouldn’t be asking them. I know I shouldn’t put myself, who has never published before, against people who have published for years. But the questions have become natural; they never stop.
For a while, I thought it was okay to read and compare. I believed I was learning the most from them and improving my stories through their writings. Which to a point, I am, but I’m also destroying myself.
There are times I believe that I’ll never publish a book. There are times I sit down and stare at the words in front of me with disgust. I can’t write like them. My words don’t sound the same. How will I get published?
Those thoughts are wrong. No writer should compare themselves to another. No one can tell my story the way I need to tell it and I cannot tell someone else how to write their story. All writers are artists that have their own natural beauty.
But it’s difficult to remind myself this. Sometimes I feel like I need to write “I am a valid writer” up and down my arms until it’s believable again. It’s something I must repeat until it’s embedded into my brain.
I don’t think the positivity will always stay though. The feeling might go away after I publish. Until then, books are a bitter sweet memory of something I want to become.