Writer Envy

I’m reading two great books right now. One is, of course, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. The other is Camille by Tess Oliver. Bird by Bird came highly recommended to me by every writer I’ve ever met and I stumbled across Camille when I was looking for a way to test out the Kindle App on my new iPod. Both of these books are wonderfully written–one full of humor and insight, the other with such clean and precise word choice–that it has me wondering…can I be that writer?

I first experienced Writer Envy when I read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger five or six years ago. It was before I’d gotten back into writing again but even then, I thought, I want to write like this. The honesty, the no holds barred, the taboo. Her voice and the perfection of her writing created a lot to envy. To this day it is still my favorite book of all time.

Now that writing is a part of my everyday life, my Writer Envy has gotten worse. It rears its ugly head in bed at night as I read well chosen verbs and vivid metaphors. I sort of want to throw the book across the room in protest but I can’t seem to part with it. I get frustrated the words don’t come to me so perfectly, no matter how many times I rewrite. Sometimes I think, why bother?

Because I’m not sure of my own writing voice, it’s easy for me to blow one way or the other, trying to sound further along in my writing journey than I am. We all want to just be there already. Published. Appreciated. Award-winning.

I’m trying to learn to appreciate where I am in my process, though. Overuse of adverbs and all. Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it’s also the quickest way to lose my own writing voice.

Each one of us brings our own experiences and thoughts and values to the table and it’s those things that make our writing unique. Lose them, and I’ll become just another writer in the vast sea of choices. When I feel Writer Envy, I want to use it to fuel me. I want to use it to understand what I want from my own writing by taking those things I envy most and making them important in my own stories. I want to make those enviable traits something to strive for.

I started working on my story again last night. It was comforting to find my voice and my words there. It wasn’t perfect, but it was me.

Which writers and books do you envy?

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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Comments (10)

  1. OMG!
    It’s like you are in my brain! I get writer’s envy all the dang time. When I walk into Barnes and Noble (my fav place in the world) I get to thinking, “Who the heck do I think I am?” All these new authors/best sellers/millions of books to compete with! And then I think, who in the world wants to read my drivel? The word that comes to mind is: overwhelmed

    I also loved the Time Traveler’s Wife! One of the best book I’ve ever read! But my real writer’s envy rears its ugly head when I read anything that my favorite author has ever written, including her blog! Diana Gabaldon…ever read her? Her first book was Outlander and it was written as “practice”. It’s absolutely fantastic! And as if being a New York Times best seller wasn’t enough with one book, she went and continued that same story on for 6 more books. I believe she is now writing the 8th.

    I often think that if I could write half as good as she does, I’d be a happy camper. But, like you, I need to strive to either get rid of that envy or use it to my benefit. All I ever wanted to do was write, and I can’t let the millions of books out there overwhelm me with insecurity.

    WE CAN DO IT!!
    Thanks for the great blog!

    1. Yes, I have read some of her work. All of my nursing friends (and I have a lot of them) are obsessed with her!

      Novel writing is such a huge endeavor that the only way we can make it to “The End” is to stay positive!

      It’s been great getting to know you today!

  2. I envy writers with book series. They create their own world that almost makes the reader believe it exists. I think that’s amazing.

    1. That’s a great one! It’s an incredible talent to catch readers with one book, let alone create characters that readers will follow through several books. J.K. Rowling is, like, my hero!

        1. If you included every good writer, we’d be here all week! 🙂

      1. Yes, it takes a lot of talent to achieve that. As you know, I have a story that I’d like to continue for a while. It’s very exciting to have that kind of story in my head, but intimidating at the same time. It’s easy for a story to lose its steam and feel like there’s a lot of “filler” to take up space. Hopefully, I can avoid that and create something great.

        1. I have all the faith in the world. Drive is what makes stories great–drive to write them, drive to polish them and drive to make them the best they can be. So if you have that, you have everything you need.

  3. I’m reading Bird by Bird right now, too. I’m only at the beginning, but I *love* her voice. The first Jennifer Crusie novel I read, Faking It, was when I said, “My God, I want to be able to do this.” That’s where my journey back into writing began. I loved that her heroine faked an orgasm, I loved that her characters were screwed up, twisty, real people that I really cared about. And I don’t think I write like her at all. So mimicking her would probably fit me badly, but I do envy her skills.

    1. It’s so cool that you can track your desire to write back to that. I think knowing why you started in the first place is a great way to remind yourself why you should keep going when it gets hard.

      Come back and tell me how you like Bird by Bird when you’re finished!

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