We Don’t See Our Own Writing

Writer envy. Yep. I recently discovered Barbara Freethy and experienced a serious case of it. How does she write such flawless story? How does she keep consistent tone? I’m reading The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue by Barbara Samuel right now and I am in awe by how mature and experienced her writing is. Why can’t I seem to create such diverse characters with such detailed backgrounds?

During a meeting last month with my lovely writing partners, we sat around having this exact conversation.

You are so great at world building! I don’t know how you do it. I could never invent such realistic places like that.

But you have such a fun tone. Every time I try to be funny, it feels so fake.

But you are great at layering your story so that all this foreshadowing comes back around at the end. How do you do that?

No, we did not have a group hug.

As much as we do love each other’s writing, what was really happening was a little bit of writer envy all around. The funniest part is that as these compliments were flying around, the person receiving them usually responded with, “What? I don’t know what you’re talking about. This is just how I write.”

I don’t know about you, but often when I write, it feels so simple. I’ve experienced these things a million times. Nothing truly invented here, just rearranged and placed for optimum impact. Wait, didn’t I use that scenario in another story I wrote. Crap. Better take it out just in case and start over. Grab the thesaurus! I think I used “attended” five times on the same page.

What a mess.

Send it to the writing partners to see if there is anything salvageable. They’ll know how to fix it. They are so much better at writing then me. Drag my feet into the coffee shop and wait for the firing squad.

And then…

You are so great at world building! I don’t know how you do it. I could never invent such realistic places like that.

But you have such a fun tone. Every time I try to be funny, it feels so fake.

But you are great at layering your story so that all this foreshadowing comes back around at the end. How do you do that?

Laugh. Really? I thought you were going to hate it.

Because we don’t see our own writing. We don’t think what we have to say is unique. We don’t think our style or voice or story is different than the same stuff we’ve all read a million times. But it is.

All those things we’ve experienced that seem like old news to us are unbelievable to others. The voice that just comes out and sounds like everything else we’ve ever written is different than the voice of every other writer out there. The style that we don’t even think we have is born of years of cultivating until it is so natural it’s like breathing.

Just like when we look in the mirror, we’re so busy focusing on our flaws, we look right past the little points of beauty…so we do with our writing. But what seems mundane to us, is perfection to someone who doesn’t know how to do what we do.

Let’s prove it–what compliment do you receive most about your writing?

Photo by Evil Erin

I am an author and a writing business teacher. I am also a mother of two, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. My debut women's fiction novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017. Here, I blog about my journey in publication in the hopes of inspiring others to follow their own dreams.

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