There are many writers who make me feel like a chump when I read their work. Luckily, I don’t end up meeting most of them so I don’t ever have that feeling of humility hanging over my head every time I sit down to write. But I had the pleasure of attending a book signing with Greg Rucka, the writer of the Tara Chase and Atticus Kodiak novels as well as a bevy of comics that I would hold as some of the best in the business, and it was the same way I imagine athletes would feel playing on the same field as their heroes in their prime. Mr. Rucka took the time to discuss his method and his outlooks on writing on multiple arenas. He explained what sort of research he does and how he compiles it all into the finished products he releases for public consumption. His words resonated with a deep affection for the things he writes and the work he does.
It forced me to reflect on my own work in a way that I don’t often like to. I’m my own harshest critic and looking back at my own work all I can see are the flaws. I have been praised for my work numerous times. People have told me how much they’ve enjoyed certain parts of The Song Before Nightfall and assured me that I have a style that speaks to them as a reader and that they would happily read the next book I release. That doesn’t mean that I don’t look at what I have done and wish I could have done better. When you are in the presence of someone like Greg Rucka, who I will unabashedly say is one of my modern literary heroes, you can’t help but compare yourself to them. I’m proud of every one of my books. They represent something very important to me. Each one of them is very different and there is an underlying current that runs through them and I would argue that my literary voice is very defined in them. Reading The Song Before Nightfall and Grave Danger back to back won’t leave you doubting that I wrote both of them. I have quirks and tendencies that transcend genre. What I don’t have, in my mind’s eye, is the ability to write in such a precise, scientific manner. I don’t truly have a method. I suppose that will come over time.
What I’m trying to say is that moments like these are what inspire me to get a little better at what I do. I want to tell stories that people want to read. I want to tell them with my own voice. I want people to like what that voice is. People like Greg Rucka inspire me to find the time to write every day and make sure that that voice is heard. What this post is, is essentially a thank you note. A 500 word thank you note that he’ll probably never read. Unless Greg Rucka is also a telepath…which would make a lot of sense.