Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Projecting Criticism

I’m a hypercritical reader these days. I’m looking at everything with an eye to revision, even when I’ve moved on from my own work to something else. I’ve noted as well that my sharpest criticism is provoked by those facets of the fiction of other writers that reflect the flaws in my own work. I haven’t yet sorted out whether it’s a matter of already being aware of those flaws in my work and thus being particularly alert to their presence in anything else that I read. Or if it’s a matter of being able to identify those flaws elsewhere first as a step along the way toward acknowledging their presence in my work. Either way, although for the moment it has rendered my bedtime reading much less relaxing, this acute form of “reading like a writer” seems to be working for me at this stage in the process.


Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. I reached a point that I was so much "reading like a writer" that I had to let go of some writers I had enjoyed in the past. Take Susan Isaacs, for instance. I would be thrilled to write as well as she does. Yet I can't read her any more, because all I can see are the flaws.

On the other hand, the seemingly flawless ones: Margaret Atwood, Michael Cunningham, John Banville, David Mitchell, are even more difficult to read. It's hard to accept how brilliant I'm not, yet still keep writing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it does sound like you're tuned up to do some really good revising. I'd be interested to hear whether and/or when this reading sensitivity dies down.