Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Koan

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.

2 comments:

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.