|Posted by John L. Pattillo on November 7, 2010 at 3:20 PM|
You read and you respond. You say to yourself, "What a wonderful way this author has!" When you sit down to write, you may say, "I would love to write in such a wonderful way."
All well and good. But if you try to ape that author you admire, you will be...an ape. You will be false. Your words will not be the mirror of your thoughts and your values. Your writing will not be the product of your sovereign mind and soul.
The greater the impression that other writer whom you admire has made, the harder it may be to step out from under his or her influence. Romain Rolland says, in his moving biography of Michelangelo, "The heroes of art are also its tyrants," because they are so overwhelmingly brilliant at what they do that they make followers think that theirs is the only possible way of creating. At this time, four hundred years after, artists are still trying to get out from under the influence of Michelangelo.
Though I have learned from many authors, the ones I have had to struggle to get out from under are Victor Hugo, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Ayn Rand. To create dramatic juxtapositions as Hugo does, to see into the interior of a soul as Dostoevsky does, to parse the logic of events and of characters as Rand does -- these have been the temptations, the temptations within the word "as". If one succumbs to that "as" one will be what Ayn Rand calls a "second-hander," an imitator...an ape.
So I have worked to build my own voice, my own way of going at writing a sentence, a paragraph, a novel.