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Last month, I re-read Gary D. Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars, aloud with my daughter this second time through. This month we finished Gary D. Schmidt's Okay for Now (my second time through that one too). A few days ago I turned the last page of Gary D. Schmidt's newest book, What Came From the Stars.
Clearly Gary D. Schmidt is a word magician. He takes things like Shakespeare's plays, the Vietnam War, John James Audubon's bird art, bully big brothers, post-traumatic stress disorder, child abuse, or a parent's death -- he takes these things, sews them together with words, and writes nearly perfect stories.
And when I'm reading his stories, I compare them to mine.
And then I remember I can't compare anyone's stories to my own. Because my stories are mine, and anyone else's stories are theirs. I can learn from those whose writing I admire. I can chart ways those writers build their stories. I can enhance my own writing from what I absorb.
But compare? No. No writer should go there.