Tuesday, February 9, 2010


It's been the one thing on my mind over and over for the last 24 hours.

I did an interview with Robert Earl Keen the other day. Keen said a lot of things, but one thing that's been sticking to me is Emerson's statement, "Imitation is suicide." It's such a smart statement because it explodes the notion that while wanting to be someone else is flattering to that other person, it's not very flattering to the person doing the imitating.

I can't help but notice I've sometimes sought to imitate, particularly with my writing. I've sought out authors I wanted to emulate. Oddly enough, I've noticed I can't write certain kinds of things as easily if I'm reading specific authors. It's hard to write what I think of as scary when I'm reading Kurt Vonnegut. It's harder to write quirky, funnier fiction when I'm reading something like Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian."

I think any aspiring writer learns from other writers, but I'm wondering if I need to slack off on my reading to write something of my own or do I need to keep reading?

Yep. I've got a case of writer's block.


zen said...

You could handle it via the Hunter S. Thompson way? I'll be your Gonzo!

eclectic guy said...

All composers imitate at first until they find their voice. Musically, I not sure I ever truly found an original voice and I was always painfully aware of what piece or composer I was imitating. Still, it was more about therapy for me than being all that original. The frustration was that I knew that greatness was never going to come.

When people ask Philip Glass about such issues, he suggests young composers do a lot of score study. I'm not sure that would help you, but it seems to me to immerse yourself in lots of books could clear out your head.