I knew there was something I was forgetting last entry, and I finally remembered what it was. It was a quick input/output I wanted to do.
As you probably already know, I read a lot. I feel it's as essential for a writer to read as it is to write. Ehem. Sorry. Soapbox. So. As an avid reader, I've read a lot of novelists' first books. I've found that first published novels fall into two categories. One: the book has such a good idea, and there really is something shiny about it, but the writing has some room for improvement. In these cases (even with Stephanie Meyer - please don't throw shoes at me for saying this), the following books are always leaps and bounds better written as the novelist refines his or her style and voice. Practice makes perfect and all.
In the second category: the book is absolutely phenomenal. This story idea has been peculating in the author's mind since birth and has grown and morphed into the best book it can be over the years.
Obviously, I'm hoping that my first novel will fall in the second category. I have a feeling it'll be the first, though. But I think I'm ok with that.
Anyway. I digress.
What I wanted to tell you is that I am reading The Warded Man, by Peter V. Brett right now, and this is a book that blows the second category's mind. It's not like the Cassandra Clare novels that I love because they were the books I wanted to write. This is an epic fantasy so sublime that I could never hope to write anything nearly as amazing. This world is rich and vibrant and extensive. The characters are complex and varied, and very real people. And the writing - oh my goodness the writing - is brilliant: paced just right, with strategically placed world building that makes the backdrop vivid without bogging the story down, it has a fantastic balance of action, narrative, dialog, and backstory; and it is the easiest thing in the world to read, direct entertaining, without the typical flowery, distracting description that most fantasy novels are known for.
What I am saying is, first and foremost, if you like fantasy, you will love this book. It's a series, I believe. It has one sequel out, and it looks like the next one will be out sometime in 2012.
What I am also saying is that books like this discourage the hell out of me. I look at the novels I've partially written and vaguely finished, and I can't even begin to hold a candle to this author's blaze.
But then I read blog posts from my writing group buddy, R.L. Naquin, that remind me It's Not a Competition, and I realize I should stop comparing myself to other writers.
My first novel will be amazing in its own right, regardless of whether it lands in the first or second category.
And besides...sometimes those folks in the second category never write another book, or another book as good as their first. I plan on writing dozens of books, each better than the last. The only person I am in competition with is myself.