Learn more about WriteOut, a writing camp for teens founded by Ally that starts this summer in Cedar City, UT.

but I wanted THAT!

We have three kids, all same gender, all close in age, so Christmas morning takes a little bit of finagling to avoid fighting.

So we end up buying a lot of 3x of the same thing, like the item you see pictured above. I could have gone my whole life without a Mr. Potato Head Spud Lightyear in my home, but now we have several to avoid fighting. I branded them immediately with Sharpie so no one could fight over whose was whose.

I think we are like this as writers sometimes. It’s very easy to look at someone else’s writing career and think, “What I have/what I’m doing/how I’m writing is fine, but I wanted THAT!”

I’m guilty of it, mostly in the area of reading a book and thinking, “Oh, but I wanted to write like THAT! I wish I were that talented!” Or deep, or creative, or had such a way with words…I always wish I could write like that.

But our writing is our own. Otherwise we would end up with a bunch of books that all sound the same and what fun would that be?!? You can have too much of a good thing. Ask my kids, who I think are starting to wish they had diversified a little in their toy selection.

Our career is our own, and so is the way we experience that career. And the same with life. Which means that this year I vow:

1. to appreciate the good things even more
2. to not beat myself up because I can’t write like other people– I can only write like me, and
3. to try not to swear when I find yet another pink Potato Head ear or wiry white arm in the middle of the floor.

Wish me luck.




+ comments (37)
  • Julie Dixon
    January 11, 2011

    Oh my, Ally. That TOY! I’m still laughing, I hadn’t seen it before. Your thoughts are right though, we have to find and appreciate our own unique path. The way you used poetry in your book though, well, I want THAT!



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Julie, I know. I think the only reason I can stand having three of them around is that I still crack up every time I see those huge orange noses…



  • Kathryn Roberts
    January 11, 2011

    Ha! That is my home, too. Only I have two girls. My oldest decided she would do the marker thing on her own, without my help, and branded her old baby doll like her new toys. Only she put her name right on top of its head. Very large.

    I am also guilty of the latter topic. I’m trying to see the value of my own writing and not compair myself to others. Good post. Nice reminder. And it IS true. We can’t all be the same. We would be so bored with each other. And we wouldn’t learn.



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Kathryn, that made me laugh out loud. Your daughter is smart.



  • Patti
    January 11, 2011

    My sister had three girls all close in age, they’re almost adults now and she still buys things in threes. Great advice for us writers, we need to learn to be ourselves.



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Thanks, Patti! I’m trying to remember to take my own advice. šŸ™‚



  • Shari
    January 11, 2011

    I think it would be easy for us all to say that we want what Ally has, because you are so awesome. However, you are right. We cannot compare ourselves to others because we all have our own individual style. Thanks for the reminder.



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Shari, you have a great style! I wish I could write as funnily (is that a word?) as you.



  • Brodi Ashton
    January 11, 2011

    I will try to incorporate #1 and #2, but I would definitely fail at #3.

    Thanks for the post!



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Brodi, I’m totally failing at #3. But at least most of the time I keep the swear words in my head. That’s progress.



  • JenniElyse
    January 11, 2011

    I think resolution 3 is going to be the hardest. šŸ˜‰ I made my nieces and my friend’s kids crocheted kitties for Christmas. My friend’s kids were easy because they each have a favorite color. My nieces, on the other hand, all love pink. So, it was kind of hard to make these all the same color without them knowing whose is whose. Luckily, I was able to get it to work.

    As far as writing, I do the same thing, even though I’m not a writer. I would love to write, but I compare myself to published authors too much and discourage myself. Thanks for your post. I’ll try to just write for the fun of it and not compare myself to anyone.



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Jenni, you have to be the best aunt ever! And you should totally write a book!



  • Blue
    January 11, 2011

    I just read your whole blog (well, it took a few days) back to the first post (which made me think you were blogging somewhere else before here because it felt like that post wasn’t the first post).

    One thing I wanted (speaking of WANTS) was a date on each post. Is it just my browser (Safari for Mac) that isn’t displaying a date on your posts? If I was trying to figure out a time-frame, I would open the comments and see when the first one was left to get a general sense of time…but I don’t see dates.

    Before I read your whole blog, I read Matched. And I loved it. I’m 18,000 words into my first book. I’m not a writer, never intended to be one, but I had this dream last year and it’s been bugging me to become a story. A friend who read Matched and who knows about my story sent me your book and I’m trying to not succumb to the “I want to write like HER!” mentality (though, wouldn’t that be awesome!?!)

    I need to stop reading your blog and get back to writing my book šŸ™‚ But thanks for an enjoyable few days. I hope to meet IRL at some point (I live near King’s English…if only I’d known about your launch!)

    ♥ ~ Blue



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Blue, I know. We need to get stuff organized. Someday. If only my husband didn’t have a full-time job and I weren’t so incompetent with wordpress…

      and I’ve been blogging since 2006, but when we changed formats a lot of the old entries were lost.

      So glad you liked Matched and best wishes with your writing!



  • Realornotreal
    January 11, 2011

    Love this as always! And in my house it wouldn’t be appendages of a Potato Head, but legos lying dangerously in the range of feet! Yeouch!!



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Realornotreal–yes!! Legos here too! They are the bane of my existence!



  • misty provencher
    January 11, 2011

    Hi Ally,
    I understand where you are coming from. I felt this way when I read this book, MATCHED, this past weekend. Hehe. There were several things I admired in your work, including the symbolism you wove in and sustained throughout; the ability to capture the intricacy of how feelings change- i.e., the way you painted one character as desirable but were able to keep him ‘at bay’ while bringing the second love interest to the forefront; the twist of words that made me say, “I wish I’d thought of that.” The writing in certain scenes even evoked a horrible jealousy on my part! One in particular occurred on pg 249, 2nd paragraph…powerful. You zapped me when I read it. Thank you for letting me envy your writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think that intense appreciation of someone else’s writing helps us to set apart and grow what is uniqmasterful in ourselves.



    • misty provencher
      January 11, 2011

      Um whoops. I wasn’t done editing that and still managed to fat-finger the return key!



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Misty, thank you so much for your lovely words. I really appreciate them. Wow. That gives me a shot in the arm to keep working on CROSSED!



  • Andria
    January 11, 2011

    Love this! It is so true…in so many ways. Thanks for sharing!



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Thank YOU for reading, Andria!



  • Nikki
    January 11, 2011

    I have 3 kiddos too – and as soon as one gets one, the other 2 want it for sure!

    And yes – you’re right – as an author it’s hard not to envy someone else’s … well everything! That’s why I tend to stay away from reading when I’m editing. I’d rather just focus on what I do well!



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Nikki, good point. I have to read other’s stuff while I’m editing though because I get SO SICK of my own writing. It sounds like you have figured out your process which is a HUGE step. Good for you!!



  • Jeigh
    January 11, 2011

    I relate to both. The first thing I thought when you said they each got a potato head is, “Ooh, did she brand each ear and arm?” Because I know my kids would manage to fight even over those.

    I’m super guilty of comparing my writing to others. It’s hard not to, but I think when we do that, we miss the really good things we say. We shouldn’t discount our own view.



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Jeigh, amen on not discounting your own view.

      And on the arms and ears. I should have branded them too.



  • Emily
    January 11, 2011

    I, also, totally get this. We had a creative way of solving it this year for Christmas. I had my two too-close-in-age-girls give each other the new Rapunzel barbie.

    Both of them were so surprised and delighted Christmas morning that there were two of them and that they had this super special secret to keep to themselves for a few days before Christmas.

    I patted myself on the back many times.

    I also agree with you on the writing thing. I have to remind myself often that my work is just that, my work. And whose to say that it’s not valid in its own way–even if it’s not like anything else out there.

    As always, thanks for your thoughts.



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Emily, that is a genius idea! Genius! And thanks for coming by the blog. I’m so glad you do.



  • Ruth
    January 11, 2011

    Great post. This is something I struggle with. Actually I wrote a similar post on my blog about this (which is totally different because we don’t write like each other, right!). I think the thing to remember is to be inspired by other writers and take that inspiration into your own work.



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Ruth, so true. I will have to check out your post!



  • Stephanie
    January 11, 2011

    For the most part, I think we’ll avoid most of that toy stuff….my daughter is 7, my son 2!! LOL!

    I do often read other people’s work and wish I had thought of such a cool plotline.



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      Stephanie, that’s so nice to have that difference in age and genders for toy shopping!!



  • CharlotteCondie
    January 12, 2011

    I’m impressed you labeled them. I now insist on not labeling duplicates because as I idealistically scream at my children, “That’s why I got two (or three), so you wouldn’t have to fight over it. They’re the same!” Don’t beat yourself up about the writing, you gotta be you and only one person in the world can be you that awesomely (does that work?).



    • ally
      January 12, 2011

      That works great, Charlotte. Thank you.



  • Rosalind
    January 12, 2011

    I a high school English teacher and I LOVE Matched. I read the ‘sample’ book before it was officially released and loved it-it reminds me of Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and has been well-read in my house by my three teenage daughters. Now I am passing it round my year 8s and 9s, many of them have gone out and bought their own copy. We are eagerly anticipating sequels. You are a very clever writer, and as an avid reader of teenage fiction, you are best I’ve read in a long while. Well done.



  • Emy Shin
    January 12, 2011

    I have definitely thought, “Oh, I wish I could write that beautifully” when reading a fabulous novel, but you’re completely right: If everybody’s writing is the same, there’ll be no variety in books we read. :]



  • Stacey
    January 13, 2011

    Incredible post Ally as always, but definitely what I needed to hear right now. A book just came out and I though the exact thing..”THAT is the book I was trying to write.” Then I felt all blah, and crappy cause I felt like I don’t have the talent to do it. But I have to remember that as you said, we all are our own writers and have our own journeys.

    Can’t wait to read the next step in yours! šŸ˜‰



  • Shannon Dunham
    January 17, 2011

    Oh my! I have six kids close in age and this Christmas all six liked the same three things. We unwrapped with a sharpie next to me to mark everything! Luckily they all love legos so they all got a kit and those we don’t label but you can never have enough and so many pieces are interchangeable. Your post is wonderful! I keep writing and it is even inspiring my kids to be writers some day too… for some they are publishing their little books to share with us. Thank you for your comments. It brings hope to another writer with children.




Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *

*
*
*