Having recently finished the sequel to my young adult novel, Red Nectar, I am amazed, stupified and stunned with the advancement of my writing skills. Black Licorice is just so much better! I look back at the difference in writing skills and am darned plumbed pleased with my literary growth.
Then, of course, I read something by Barbara Kingsolver, Cormac McCarthy, or John Irving and I sink back down to my lowest depths and gaze in adoring wonder at the heights to which I can only hope to approach half-way on in comparison to what they produce as a matter of course.
But still, I sigh as I console my writer's ego, I did do better this time.
And, there are many things that I am good at. Just ask my dog, Sydney. Every time she sees me with a leash in hand, she thinks I am the Queen of the Land of Dogs. She says that I do a marvelous job of handing out dog biscuits. The cats? I am so cool to them that they actually purr when I grace them with petting time. I know right where their chins need to be scratched.
Of course, if I am searching for compliments after feeling a down day of writing, my teenage sons are not who I go to. Last week when I made Ahi steaks for dinner, and thought they were mouth-wateringly delicious, the younger of my sons asked if they were supposed to taste like leather.
Oh, but when I buy them what they want, I am back to being an okay mother.
And, the idea that Black Licorice is better written than its predecessor is mine. Writers must have SuperHuman strength to shield off ego crushing rejection letters and nasty mean critiques. I don't know if this strength stems from ignorance, stupidity, or the ability to ignore what words are cast at us just so we can tell yet another story. I guess we really listened to the "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" garbage that is thrown at us when we are young, naive and easy prey.
So, for now, I am going to continue to feed myself with the truth or lie that this story is better than the last. What is for certain, is that I will feel the same about each book I write as time goes on. Practice does seem to make us better at what we do. Unless you are an aging athlete or an old dog trying to learn new tricks. Well, there are always the exceptions.
Excuse me now while I start on my next writing project. Who knows, maybe this one really will be better than the last. Could happen.