I’m reading a rather extraordinary book at the moment – The Overstory, by Richard Powers. I’m a lover of trees, and find it depressing at Christmas to see so many cut down and then discarded. When I read a review of the book I knew I had to read it for myself (a relative was kind enough to buy it for me for a Christmas present after I’d dropped several hints). The book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2018.
As I turn the pages I realise I’ll never be able to write anything as good as this. I’d love to know how long it took the author to research and write it. The book centres on trees, and how several individual characters interact with certain trees in their particular storyline. Yes, it’s a strange topic for a work of fiction, but it’s quite amazing how the author weaves the trees and the people together. Mr Powers is also obviously stating his case for the environmental damage that has already been done to our planet.
So … how do I carry on writing after reading something as awesome as this, and what’s the point of even trying? It’s a hard question because I’d hate to give up doing something I love, yet what I write seems trite compared to this novel. However, looking at The Overstory’s reviews on Amazon, some readers do not like it at all, which just goes to show that you cannot please all the readers all the time.
That old chestnut (excuse the pun) acceptance comes into it too. Accept that I’m like thousands of other common-or-garden self-publishers who write for a hobby, and that there are only a few writers like Mr Powers who are talented enough to stand out amongst the masses.
In my opinion the book is worthy of every award it earns. However, it’s caused me to step back and evaluate my own work, and whether it’s a good idea to just leave writing books to the professionals. But then again… even the professionals had to start somewhere. I may never be as good a writer as Richard Powers, but at the end of the day it’s not in my nature to give up.
I’ve got another 400 or so pages to go yet before I finish the book. Anyone who loves trees and nature should definitely read The Overstory!