You’ve heard the advice over and over again. Stephen King said it best: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” I subscribe wholeheartedly to this, although a couple of years ago I believed the opposite.
As an untested writer of fiction, I was concerned that if I read too much fiction – particularly fantasy and sci-fi – that I would subconsciously mimic the authors I had recently read. I was also afraid I would forget that someone had used a name or a convention, and I would accidentally use something that another author had planted in my head.
Today I feel much more confident in my own written voice. I feel like I learn from reading other authors, and the risks of inadvertent plagiarism or parroting are minimal. But I was intrigued to learn that NPR had just broadcast an interview with a Canadian columnist, Crawford Kilian, where he warns new writers to beware certain writings of a few well known authors, such as Ayn Rand. Why? Because “their readable styles look so easy that they might seduce a young writer into imitating them.”
Very interesting, I thought. The article (posted below) made me wonder if there were some writers that were so seductive to me. At one time I would have said Stephen King, but I’ve since come to recognize the brilliance in his style (even with his less accomplished work). On his list is The Lord of the Rings. I don’t think I necessarily agree with that, as early on the mature complexity becomes evident. I think Kilian’s point is more applicable to The Hobbit, with its disarming, almost fairy tale storytelling voice.
Check out the article, and let me know what you think!