I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been (re)reading the Night Angel Trilogy. I’m on the last book now, about halfway through, and I’ve noticed something strange.
The first time I read a good book, I’m pretty much consumed by it. I fall in, and I don’t think about much else until I’m through. When I’m done, I remember a lot of it – more than a lot of others I’ve learned – but I don’t remember the actual experience. I have no recollection of where I read, or what the book looked like, or how many chapters it had. Things like that. I kind of gloss those details over with this shine of near-magic. I loved the book, so it must have been just about perfect.
Honestly, I do this with second, third, and even fourth reads too.
This time, though, I can pull back. Maybe it’s because all the work I’ve done to get my own books polished. I don’t know. What I do know is that, for the first time I can remember, I’m reading a good book and seeing points that might have been better. Ones that Brent Weeks would probably want to fix, if he had the chance.
I’m not saying these aren’t great. Please don’t misunderstand. They are fantastic. But they aren’t perfect. Which is a startling realization for me.
Most creative types have issues with comparing themselves to others. I wouldn’t say I struggle with it. I’ve never had the whole “you don’t deserve to write” voice that many others I’ve talked to deal with. But I’ve always just assumed that people like Mr. Weeks are on a level that I’ll never achieve. That I shouldn’t even dream of that level, because it’s not a place for people like me. But the Night Angel Trilogy isn’t perfect. Which means that it’s not unattainable after all.
I’m not sure that I’ll ever write something as good as those books. But I might. Because Brent Weeks started out imperfect, and he gets better each time. Just like me. It’s one hell of a revelation.