It was a long shot, but I wrote to my new favorite author, Aryn Kyle, to gush and invite her to speak at my conference and she said YES!
A few months ago, I flipped out over her book, The God of Animals. Now I’m reading her short story collection, Boys and Girls Like You and Me. I normally have a hard time getting into short stories, but her writing style is so sensitive and evocative that I’m immediately immersed in each story of tainted adolescence. Her protagonists are mysterious, complicated, and observant. Her beautiful prose is filled with heartbreaking honesty, like this gem from The God of Animals:
“If you take something that isn’t yours, it will never belong to you. You can try to hold on to it, but somehow, it will slip through your fingers. If something wasn’t meant to be yours, it won’t be. No matter what you do to keep it, you will lose it.”
I’m so honored to have her as a speaker at my next conference on Saturday, September 20! She will be sharing her experience of turning an award-winning short story into a novel, as well as some tips on how to get into a writers’ residency (hint hint you don’t need to be a published author). When I started this series, I wanted to find speakers who would motivate other writers and share what they have learned. Aryn is one of my dream speakers. Don’t miss this chance to meet a wonderful, contemporary author and make sure you get a copy of her books so you can get it signed!
Never read a great book when you’re in the middle of writing a novel. I’ve read three books in the last month (Lone Wolf, The God of Animals and Little Bee). I hated the first and loved the last two. I was angry the whole time I read Lone Wolf. I gripped the pages, my knuckles turning white, thinking “I can do so much better than this.” While I read that book I wrote a lot, and I loved all of it.
When I read The God of Animals and Little Bee, I felt completely incompetent while writing. I couldn’t believe that those amazing authors used the same tools as me, and yet, with their words they stung together beautiful descriptions and complex characters while I could only cobble together a few clunky, boring sentences. Needless to say, I had a lot of trouble writing while I read these great works.
I had to remind myself:
- A published novel went through many drafts and was critiqued by an agent, publisher, editors and friends. Many people helped polish and improve the final product that I’m unjustly comparing to my work in progress
- There’s a wide range of writing styles and talents, and the library would be a boring place if everyone wrote the same. Readers want variety.
- I am reading for pleasure, not for comparison.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t enjoy amazing writing. By all means, fill your life with beautiful, compelling works of fiction; however, I suggest saving that inspiration for between projects. If you’re feeling stuck with your own work, pick up a crappy book. The anger you feel when someone who is not as good as you is successful can be incredibly motivating. There’s only so much whining you can do before you actually need to prove that you’re better.