Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Encounters with Brilliance

Every artist, at some point or other, encounters a work that has such a profound impact on them creatively that they wish they had made it themselves. As a writer, such books are typically my favorite.

I think when I was younger, coming across a book that seemed so impossibly good was inspiring, yet at the same time it was artistically draining. I often hear the same thing from young writers, how they feel frustrated when they can't write something as good as what they love to read. Older and wiser, I don't feel that way anymore...with the possible exception of Spirited Away...God! I wish I had written that.

In recent years, I've learned to recognize which aspects of the story that I love and then about them within the framework of whatever project I'm working at the time. Because it's not that I want to write the story I encountered. I want to write my story. I just want it to be as good.

I came across such a story this weekend in the book Broken by Daniel Clay and it's caused me to rethink the direction of the novel I just recently started. I don't know if I should grateful or resentful.


  1. It must be hard to keep your own 'voice' when you read something you really admire and think I wish I had written that.

  2. Funny how I just read Broken and was blown away by it also! I get frustrated sometimes but when I'm able to get past that frustration and write something new without necessarily pulling a lesson out of the work I realize after what I learned.

  3. Sometimes it can be hard to keep your voice, which is typically why I never read anything in the same genre as what I'm working on. But sometimes, something slips by that barricade.

    Adam: Exactly! That's what I've also come to learn. And agreed, Broken was an exceptional novel.