Is there anything more debilitating than failure when you don't expect it? But I've moved on (obviously, since I'm still talking about it).
Now hold on to your pants because my cleverness is back in bucketfuls and I'm going to share. As with everything on this blog, it's all my own opinions and you're welcome to disagree. Just don't tell me about it. *grin*
A while ago I decided there were two kinds of authors: those who were good storytellers and those who were good writers. Stephenie Meyer is a good storyteller. So are J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins. I would go so far as to say most of the popular writers of our day are good storytellers. They write the kind of story that grabs you from the start and you find yourself falling in love with vampires or fighting off The Dark Lord while speaking in a British accent. Maybe you even spend a night listening to a person dying. (I'm talking BOOKS not movies. Please don't even get me started on the movies of these books. They ruin everything! Stop me now.)
I've recently re-discovered the power of a good storyteller, even when telling a story I'm not especially interested in. Louis L'Amour sucks me in every. stinking. time! I love getting sucked in.
The other category is good writers. Think Markus Zusak, Eva Ibbotson, Nathaniel Hawthorn. The kind of writing that makes you stop and notice the writing. The words used. The order the words are in. It actually takes you away from the story to notice how brilliant the writing is and then make you feel stink because you could never achieve that kind of greatness.
Then there are the truly exceptional. Those authors who combine the two. It's a pretty small list. Off the top of my head, I can think of two. (Both of whom are women, but don't let that make you think I'm biased or anything).
You see? There is a reason why I love Shannon Hale so much.
Alright. I lied. I can think of more. Megan Whalen Turner, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I'm positive I'm leaving someone important off the list, but it's not coming to me. Possibly because I'm too concerned by including male names).
They combine the art of using words in a meaningful and beautiful way with the art of telling a beautiful and meaningful story. They produce the kind of book that has layers and every time you read it you find more to it. You come away feeling smarter. To find an author of that caliber is a wondrous feeling. At least for me. It's the kind I aspire to be, but fear I never will.
Here's to aspirations.