This is another post of my mental musings. These are things that are on my mind and writing helps me to sort them out.
I spent all morning searching for books and reading a few of them before deciding if I wanted to buy them. I don’t make a lot of money a month, so purchasing a $3 book is a lot to me. After hours of searching and reading, I didn’t buy a single book. Most of them I can’t get past the first chapter. I feel like I’m in 1st grade again being forced to read when I don’t want to, and feeling like something is wrong with me because I can’t enjoy books anymore.
Am I the only one here? As a writer I should be reading books, and the writing community makes it sound like I should enjoy reading. If I don’t, then I’m not a real writer. This predicament has been troubling me for weeks because I have to find other titles to compare my book to.
Even though I wrote a YA dystopian, I can’t stand the genre itself. I would never willingly read a YA dystopian (there are only a very few exceptions), and why? Because it’s so predictable. It’s overplayed. It’s either about a girl falling in love with some hot piece of ass in a post-apocalyptic world, which is disappointing because that’s all the story will be about. Will she ever kiss the hottie with the caked on abs? Or it’ll be a science-fiction tale that we’ve all heard before. So why did I write one? I have no idea. To be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting my novel to be dystopian. I know this sounds clichéd (and it is), but my writing controls me. I don’t control it. God, don’t I sound like a pretentious asshole? But it’s true. The story ended up being dystopian before I even realized where it was headed. I had one scene in mind from a dream I had and I went for it.
Now here I am two years later trying to find titles to compare my book to and I’m dragging my ass to get it done. It’s even more difficult that I have to narrow it down to novels that are popular but not too popular. You don’t want to compare your book to something that received poor reviews, and you don’t want to compare your book to a best seller or blockbuster hit because that shows that you don’t know the genre very well.
And that’s the thing that scares me: I don’t. I don’t even know YA anymore because I haven’t read for fun since college, and even in college I hardly read. Being an English major takes up all your free reading time. The last book I read that was YA was back in 2015, and it was a fantasy by Mary E. Twomey called the Undraland series. I always loved reading fantasies, but I hated writing them. I know, I recognize the irony.
Maybe I just don’t like to read what I have written? Maybe it’s some psychological issue where deep down when I’m judging other fellow writers who wrote in the same genre, I’m really scrutinizing myself. I am my own worse critic. It’s not that I cannot enjoy other writers. I think every writer out there is phenomenal (except for very few cases), but I just can’t get into the story because I’m sitting there analyzing everything like a writer would. “Oh that’s a good use of prose there…. He could have used a synonym rather than continue to repeat the same word… That’s a unique story structure… These transitions are a bit off…” I can’t just sit there and read for the enjoyment of reading anymore. And THAT’S what is really bugging me. How do I switch my brain from writer to reader?
The dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels I do like are too popular to use like 1984, The Road, and Brave New World. These are the types of novels I can’t compare mine to, but yet these are the few I could read all the way through. What is a girl to do?
Well first off, I need to stop beating myself up over being a picky reader. I’ve always have been and studying writing for years (practically my entire life) has made me even more particular. I know I’m not alone in this, and I hope this post helps some of you who feel alone in the writing community about this dilemma. You are not alone, and you’re not a bad writer just because you have specific tastes.
It’s a struggle to find comp titles and more so than I thought because I honestly can’t find a good book (that I actually like) to compare mine to. I have authors I can compare my writing style to, but when it comes to the genre I wrote my novel in, I’m lost. Now I’m not saying my book is so fucking amazing and better than anything else out there that I can’t find another novel to compare it to. I don’t have that much confidence in myself. I always believe there is room for improvement and I push myself as a writer each and every day. However, when you don’t usually enjoy a genre, it’s hard to sit there and read a book from it. Key word being “usually.”
What’s a good dystopian novel that’s a mixture of Mad Max meets Spirited Away with a philosophical/spiritual twist? I don’t know, so on the search I go. Maybe I just need to find something that isn’t about some teen girl falling head over heels for a big hulking cutie and something that isn’t science-fiction based. Perhaps I haven’t searched the right way or gone through all the piles of different dystopian novels to find what I’m looking for. Maybe I just need to be content with finding something even remotely similar. Something with a lot of action that focuses on feminism? That covers one aspect of my book. Wish me luck!
And if you have any suggestions, please send them my way.