Good versus Great

Does anyone here watch Project Runway? Did you watch this season, with the Teams? I did, and I just finished watching the finale, and in the middle of the last runway walk, which was Stanley’s, I had a bit of an epiphany.

When I decided to take a break from writing and publishing, many of my friends in the writers world told me I was crazy. My career was going strong, even when other multi-published erotic authors were getting rejected by their editors, I was selling. My agent told me I was lucky to keep selling because others were losing contracts, yet I was unhappy with where I was. It seemed like nobody understood why I was unhappy with myself, or why I was struggling so much, and that added to my stress and was the ultimate reason why I quit.

The thing is, I could’ve kept writing. I did have some story ideas, and chances were very good I could’ve sold them, but *I* was unhappy with them because whenever I started to put the ideas on paper it felt like I was regurgitating things. The characters were too familiar and not unique, the situations weren’t ones that touched me or inspired me. To be blunt, I was worried my stories were staring to feel too similar, and I didn’t want to turn into an production assembly line author pumping out the same or too similar of products each time.

Years ago (a site I can’t even find anymore) said this in a review of one of my stories. “Ms. White has the ability to write one great story after another with effortlessness!” and it’s a quote I’ve always been proud of. I wanted readers to always believe this, and since I’d stopped believing it, I stopped writing for a time.

When I was watching Stanley’s models walk that final show at Fashion week, all I could think was, they’re good, but not great. I really hope either Patricia or Michelle wins. I couldn’t choose between the two of them as to which I wanted to win, but I loved them both because they were original, and daring, and I felt Stanley’s were, well…assembly line.

I picked up a book by one of my favourite erotic authors last week, and started reading it today. Sadly, by Chapter 2 I was bored because it had that same assembly line feel, and it broke my heart. This is an author I know can be original and great, and this book felt like anyone could’ve written it. I won’t finish it. I have no interest in finishing it, and I blame the media and the publishers, editors and agents that are so blinded by ‘the big hit’ of one thing that they jump on the bandwagon and encourage their authors to produce something similar, instead of striving for something unique, new and great.

In my opinion, good is just that, good. But sometimes good isn’t good enough. I’m glad I stuck to my guns and took a break, even thought that break has turned out to be much longer than even I anticipated, because now I feel like I can reach for great again, and have fun doing it.

5 comments for “Good versus Great

  1. April 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    I watched the show, Sasha. I felt the same way, but two other things struck me. Michelle stuck to her vision. She loved that bleeding heart sweater and she kept it even after Tim told her to ditch it. Tim Gunn is fantastic, but his is just one opinion. She listened to it, considered it, but decided to go with her gut – unlike the other two designers who fell all over themselves to change everything. This was very like publishing to me. Authors fall victim to doubts and try to incorporate feedback from friends, critique groups, contests, and editors until none of their own voice remains.

    The other thing that really bugged me (and apparently, Michelle) was how unprepared the other two designers were for the biggest event of their professional lives. Michelle did the work, budgeted her time, and was ready for success. Sooo ready. The other two were scrambling, and I found myself getting nervous. I was ready to be incensed if the judges picked Stanley. It just wouldn’t have been fair. His clothes were beautiful, but I was relieved when the judges looked past the ornamental beauty to the core beneath. They saw the loose threads and uneven stitching, and he was the first to go.

    In the end, I was happy with the way Patricia pulled everything together, but I was pulling for Michelle. It brought home a great lesson. Work as hard as you can, be prepared, have conviction, be innovative, and good things will come to you.

    P.S. I hope the author that disappointed you wasn’t me!

  2. April 28, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Hi Kimberly, I agree with everything you said. When I saw that Bleeding Heart sweater on the runway, I was like “Yes!” it was so unique, and so her. SHe also kept the compass, which I thought rocked. And in one of her interview parts she said the same thing…that constructive criticism is just that, but it’s up to her if she takes it or not.

    And I really agree about the preparedness. I kept waiting for someone to tell Stanley off about his lack of professionalism. As for Patricia, I loved her originality, and some of her looks, but I think one of the main reasons I would’ve been okay with her winning was that to me she always felt like an underdog, and I tend to always cheer for the underdog. LOL In the end, I think Michelle winning was the best, and I’m glad. I’d totally wear her stuff if it fit. :)

    And nope, you were not the author. You’ve never disappointed me. ;)

  3. April 29, 2013 at 8:48 am

    This is a two sided kind of thing. On the one hand I’d rather produce something amazing; on the other hand, this puts a lot of pressure on the creative process. Focusing on the result instead of the process tends to shut it all down and make it less likely that I’ll do anything great. Or even anything at all.

  4. April 29, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    I sorta get what you’re saying, Charlene, but I think you misunderstand the point of the post. It’s not so much about always trying to be great, as it is always trying to stay true to your own vision of things. I’m not saying don’t write whats selling because it won’t be great, but I don’t believe it’s a great thing when too many authors start writing the same thing just because it’s selling. If it’s what you like to write, and want to write, and it’s selling, then fabulous. But if you’re writing it because it’s what eeveryone is talking about, and it’s not something true to your heart/voice, then I think it shows.

    Make sense?

  5. April 30, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Great distinction between good and great, Sasha. There’s a quote by Robin LaFever I’ve been in love with that ties into this. I even posted it on every page of my website, and I try to keep it in mind whenever I write. “Just as we must dance as if no one is watching, we must write as if no one is reading.” To me, this encapsulates the whole idea. As soon as we start worrying if we please, we start making mistakes. Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier said than done. :)

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