Writer Problems - Writer's Envy

Currently drinking: An orange essenced latte, a Dana original. :-)  Recipe can be found at the bottom of today's blog post.

Many thanks to my sweet friend, MB, for this cup.  I needed the encouragement.

Many thanks to my sweet friend, MB, for this cup.  I needed the encouragement.

Okay, real talk guys.  I'm fairly sure I'm not sharing any new insights here.  Anyone who undertakes any kind of creative endeavor has probably dealt with with this at some point: comparison.  So if you follow me on social media ( @danafraedrich on Instagram and Tumblr), you probably already know I'm currently reading Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  I adore this book!  It's absolutely delicious, a sumptuous feast for the mind.

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Unfortunately, as much as I'm enjoying it, I've fallen into the comparison trap.  Specifically, I'm comparing her talent with description to mine.  Setting scenes and creating atmosphere is my Achilles heel as a writer.  It's just not something that occurs to me so much, and the problem is made even worse because I have a tendency to be quite literal and strive for accuracy (honestly, some days I feel like I'm looking for the best words to use more than I'm writing), so my descriptions aren't as lush as I would like them to be.  Stephanie Garber has this talent in spades, however.  Instead of saying "He smiled seductively", her style is something more like "his smile promised illicit desires".  And she describes a waterfall as looking like "melted peacock feathers".  As an author who is well aware of her shortcomings in this department, reading language as colorful and well crafted as this both thrills and depresses me.

Falling prey to these insecurities yesterday created a bit of a brick wall for me and affected my writing groove - I'm pleased to say I kept writing, which is always what I tell other people they should do, but I didn't feel good about it.  Thankfully, I have some very wise people in my life.  A fellow writer friend once said in regards to first drafts, "Just get it down.  You're going to go back and make changes anyway," and that advice helped get me through yesterday.  I've started a list in my Research section for this book I'm working on - the sequel to Out of the Shadows - of things I want to focus on in the next draft, and that includes improving my descriptions.  This is how I make myself feel better anyway, by creating a plan and taking action...and also having a cup of tea, which also happened.  What writing problems have you all been dealing with lately, and how do you deal with them?  Let me know in the comments below.

Now, as promised, here's the recipe!

Orange Essenced Latte
Peel or zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Either 1/2 cup French pressed coffee or 1 shot of espresso, your choice
Enough hot milk (steamed, microwaved, whatever you like) to top your coffee off in the mug of your choice

To begin, you will need your orange peel without the pith, which is bitter.  You can either zest the entire orange, or you can do like I did and use a vegetable peeler to get big pieces of the peel off.  Just be careful not to peel too deeply and get the pith as well.  Once you have your zest or peel, pop that into a heat resistant (read: not plastic) vessel that can hold at least 1.5 cups of volume.  Now top that with your half cup of sugar.  Boil your half cup of water - I use my electric kettle for this and just measure out a half cup.  Whatever method you use, be aware that you will lose some of your water volume when it boils, so best to boil a bit extra and then measure out a half cup.  Pour you half cup of water over your orange peel and sugar mixture, muddle slightly (you can just use a spoon to do this), and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Then let your orange peel steep in the hot water for an hour.  After that, just remove the peels or, if you used zest, strain the now orange infused syrup into a different container.  Next, prepare your coffee and milk and add however much syrup suits your taste.  I add a tablespoon of syrup to my latte, but you might like more or less.  Now, enjoy!

Thanks for reading!