WriYe: Author Admiration

The question this month is simple:

What author do you admire the most? Why?

And the answer is thus quite simple. Only because it’s me I’m going to take a little segue first and explain my thinking behind any kind of admiration.

I joke sometimes about certain people being “who I want to be when I grow up”. Now obviously I’m 33 and so I should be grown up but it’s more about the dream they represent I guess – an ideal in some way. I don’t know if I’m unusual in this approach because I feel (possibly mistakenly) that most people would equate author = writing, and talk about the books that have touched their soul, the wordsmiths who transcended the written word to weave something magical.

Now don’t get me wrong that’s good too but when I think of the authors I admire the most, it’s less about their actual words (though I like those too!!) and more about what they have achieved in their career. Essentially, they are where I would like to be.

Originally I think my answer to this would have been Anthony Horowitz. He’s had an enviable career as a novelist and writing for TV, but there’s the rub – as much as I love TV working within it would require far too much people interaction. I think he was the example though in my mind for so long because I heard him speak once (also not something I would ever want to do). I actually asked a question (how I managed to get the words out I don’t know). I asked how much of his first draft made it into the final book, and he said less than 10%. I found that then, and still do now, a supreme comfort. That when I feel like I have written the shittiest thing in the world, that also happens to an author with a few dozen books under his belt.

Then a year or so ago (what even is time?) I started reading Lindsey Buroker. I’d been aware of them for longer. I think I’d looked at their website as an indie author back in 2016 but I’d not read any of their stuff. When I did I found not just a new favourite author but an author I deeply admired as well. Why? Two main points:

1) their career is actually potentially possible being indie pubbed
2) their writing style is not hugely dissimilar to my own – just much better obviously.

Lindsey Buroker has written getting on for 100 books now (I also deeply admire their focus), and so they are well-practiced. They have honed their craft to a level I can only dream about reaching. When I was at sixth form (so I was 16/17) I took English and we had to pick an example of writing, and then write something in that style. Wanting a good mark I naturally tried to find something that felt like it was in my style and despaired as nothing I read seemed to feel like that. I eventually settled on something (it was an extract from funnily enough a Midsomer Murders novel, which is ironic given the previously mentioned Anthony Horowitz). It wasn’t an exact match but I got a good mark so clearly it was close enough for the assignment. Still I didn’t forget how it felt, that it hadn’t felt right. Now part of me is horrified at my audacity to dare suggest that there is anything in common with my writings, and Lindsey Burokers – how arrogant of me! But unlike that time from half a lifetime ago, it doesn’t feel like a lie.

I’ve been reading a book recently that I got out from the library, so it’s trad pubbed. It has ‘million copy bestseller’ on the cover, and I know it’s the first book in a multi-book series. It’s also one of the worst written novels I have read in a while. Those two facts that feel like they should connect. Now I know that it’s “just like my opinion man” about how well it’s written. Although I can point out things that craft books recommend against, like having the main character look in the mirror to describe themselves. Still there’s an arrogance to this as well. How dare I think that this book that has sold a million copies is badly written? How dare I feel that this gives me hope? That if this got published, and did that well, then maybe there’s a chance for my stuff.

I include this anecdote ^^ for context I guess. I’m not usually given to ego. Most of the time I want to ‘kill it with fire’ as I feel like every word I write is absolute trash. The highest praise I will usually give myself is that the ideas are good, it’s the execution that is crappy. But at the same time as a writer what I need to keep going is hope. I need hope that maybe I will get there in the end. Pouring my soul and hundreds of hours of my time into novels – hope is vital or I will give up. It’s so easy to get discouraged.

So yes I deeply, deeply admire Lindsey Buroker. She has never written a novel I haven’t supremely enjoyed and rated 5* (and I have read quite a few of hers now). Her speed is astonishing and enviable and is something I would love for myself. I like to feel accomplished and part of that is feeling good about my productivity. Sadly though I think this might be out of my reach due to my chronic health issues but anyway. Regardless of how fast (relatively) she has done it, she’s built up an incredible body of work.

What she has accomplished is tremendous, and it gives me hope that maybe one day I’ll be able to achieve a fraction of that success. That’s a big part of my why – hope.