The inevitable mixture of despair and jealousy that creeps in after I finish a really great novel has come and settled into a little corner of my writing desk. I keep staring at it. It’s green and fuzzy and I find it very distracting. Even more so than the black and white cat named Clementine curled up in my lap right now. It’s been so distracting that I haven’t had a good writing day since Friday.
It happens every time. I finish the last page of a great piece of literature, and I’m left feeling like I can never, ever get to that level of brilliance. Ever. (I just finished Room by Emma Donoghue.)
But Stephen King seems to have figured out a cure for this common malady, apparently affecting writers of all genres—read a really bad book.
Almost everyone can remember losing his or her virginity, and most writers can remember the first book he/she put down thinking: I can do better than this. Hell, I am doing better than this! What can be more encouraging to the struggling writer than to realize his/her work is unquestionably better than that of someone who actually got paid for his/her stuff?
I think I’ll go reread Flowers in the Attic. It’s pretty awful and even that got made into a movie (although the movie is actually kind of awesome).