Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Comparison Trap

*sigh* I finally read The Hunger Games yesterday. Yep, the whole book in one day. This is not a review of the book since I'm probably one of the last hold outs in the writing community to read it. I loved it, but now this is my mood...
Why you might ask? Because I immediately compared my writing to Suzanne Collins. Not that I write like her, but that I don't.

There are some beautiful moments of humanity in her book. The moment in the square when no one claps, but they salute Katniss in their own way. Beautiful. The last moments with Rue. I read that sitting in the car pool line and I was wiping tears the whole time. And the others. You know what they are, if not, go read the book.

I don't have any tearful moments in my book. At least not this first one, but don't worry, tears are planned.

Here's the thing. We read to see what pulls us in--what other writers do that works. We learn from it and then hopefully incorporate it into our writing style. I can never write the same as Suzanne. I don't even want to try and be her twin.
I don't think she'd appreciate it, and well, I'm me. But, I've been wallowing in the "I need to start all over on my book." It's out with some agents and suddenly I feel so detached from my work that I'm ready to trash it and try again. Why are we so emotionally fragile as writers?

The truth? The theme of the Hunger Games is different from Sendek. The emotions I play to are different. I am happy with my writing. But, I know I can still make it better. The comparison trap has me wondering if I started querying too soon.

Yeah, 6 years of simmering in my head, 1 month drafting, 2 years revising and editing and I'm still scared it's too soon. It stinks. I also know that I had reached a critical point in my writing career. Take a chance or quit.

So after hours of round and round with my split personalities. I'm still glad I took the plunge. And maybe this will help make the next book all that much deeper and richer with the human plight.
An apple is still an apple after all. Even when they are different.


  1. I'm not a big YA reader, but I loved The Hunger Games. That scene with Rue ripped my heart out.

  2. I can't even read the beginning of The Hunger Games anymore, because one mention of that damn cat sets me bawling! And I can't read it analytically, either, I just keep getting lost in the story.

    If it makes you feel better, as soon as I read it I immediately thought my own work was crap. It's not that I want my work to be like hers, we have very different styles, but reading her work made me want to be a better writer. It made me work even harder to hone my voice, to add emotion and mood in my own style.

    Great post!

  3. Meika, I know!

    Tere, thanks, I'm glad I'm not the only one feeling insignificant and untalented after reading that. What a great author Suzanne is to inspire us to dig a little deeper. I think I've got a great story, a good ride, but I don't think I really thought about the deep issues of humanity that I can easily add.

    I'm already thinking of ways to deepen the story...after Nano and the draft of the sequel. At least there is a better chance of making my possible "sophomore" book better than the first! I hate when second books in a sequel feels like filler or a bridge from point A (book 1) to point B (the conclusion in book 3).

  4. Yay for taking the Hunger Games plunge!

    It's proabably important to note that it wasn't her first book. If you look at her wonderful writing record it's like she worked up to this because YES OMG they are amazing as books.

    They do indeedy make me feel insignifcant in comparison but, as Tere said, I can't read them objectively anyway. I get so emotionally invested I forget to analyse the words ;)

    Another author I feel like that about? Jandy Nelson. There's not a wasted word in her book The Sky is Everywhere and WITHIN ONE CHAPTER I was crying. Wow.

    <3 <3 <3 <3

  5. You can't compare. I think everything Preston & Child write is awesome, but I know it's not my exact style, so I don't even try.

  6. But your book is not an emotional, teary-eyed book, and that is what made it really good. It has lots of action and drama, you don't have to make the reader cry in order for it to be good. Just remember, you got a totally NON-sci-fi hubby to read your book and loved it, so that has to count for something!

  7. *squee* My hubby comments, AND makes my day all in one. Thanks hun.

    Mia and Alex, thanks for your comments too. It's just another lesson to learn. Alex, any reviews coming in yet on CassaStar?

  8. I just went through a similar experience. I finished a book or rather I devoured a book. Excellent writing, character development, plot, etc. I had to shut down the Negative Nellie part of me and tell myself my writing is just different.

  9. I think we all get into the comparison trap at least one point in our lifetime, but it's the getting out that counts :)
    You don't need to worry about your writing, you're an amazing writer and I'm so glad to know you even if through this virtual land!

  10. I just bought this book, you are not the last! From what everyone says I have to admit I'm a bit intimidated too. But you know what? We each have our own unique style and there is someone out there, maybe a lot of someones if we're lucky, who are going to love it!

  11. I can't read a book without comparing myself. And losing. Why do we do it? Well, they say you need to suffer in order to write...

  12. This is such a coincidence because I've been feeling like that picture today too! For different reasons but definitely like that. I even posted about it a little while ago.

    Don't worry too much about Suzanne Collins and how you don't write like her. We're all different and it's not productive to wish we could write like someone else. Besides, it would be really boring if we all wrote the same.


  13. Hahaha! This made me laugh, because that's how I felt being done too. But I bet your a great writer! Artists are the WORST critics of themselves. Trust me. But I think its a nice thing knowing you can always improve, not to have topped out and have nowhere else to go, ya know?

    Great post though!

  14. This post was very useful to me it contains all information that was needed to Clarify all confusions regarding the subject. I express my appreciation to you for this post.

    Buy Dissertation Online

  15. I've been doing too much of that lately and either way it's bad. Either you're better or worse than someone. Never good.

    Loved your last line about the apples. That's awesome.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...