Reading can be depressing. The reason? I recently read Natasha Pulley's The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and now I feel like throwing my pencil away.
    The novel is the author's first, and it's a triumph. The characters are unusual but real, the historical setting is intriguing, the story complex, yet the reader is never lost or jolted out of the world of the novel by any blip in the narrative.
    As if that wasn't enough, I've just finished reading Strange Beasties, Third Flatiron Anthologies' latest release. Each of the stories involves an animal not of the real world. They come in all shapes and sizes from mythical beasts to alien monsters. Some of the tales are sinister and some are laugh-out-loud funny, but they all share one thing in common (apart from the animal)–their inventiveness is matched by flawless writing.
    How will I ever manage to write like that? The truth is, I won't, because I'm not other authors, I'm me. Studying other writers–how they construct sentences or convey characters etc.–can improve my work, but I'll never write like them. However, I might one day write as well as them, if I internalise what I learn from others and allow it to come out in its own way. We all have our own style, which really can't be forced into someone else's mould.
    Don't be disheartened if you read something so good, you don't think you'll ever be able to match it. Be yourself, keep practising and there's no limit to what you can achieve.