Cheap carbon copies

It is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned.

                                                       – Oscar Wilde

You want to write but you don’t read?

The Talent: I’m going to be a writer.

Voice of Reason: I’ve never seen you show even the slightest interest in books.

Some writers disregard the authors of the past, claiming they have no relevance or presence in the world of the modern writer. However, good writing is timeless, it revisits issues that are importance to humans of all sexes, ages, races, classes and times. Every generation reads a work and reads it differently, revealing something new about a novel, poem or play written two hundred years ago.

It may sound tedious and unnecessary, but to write well you should be able to read. Actually, you should be putting your reading into practice. To transform, immerse and captivate a reader with your writing requires first hand experiencing of being compelled by a piece of writing. If you’re unaware of a works affect on yourself how can you hope to even tickle a reader? You don’t have to go and read the entire Cannon, but you do have to read, and read often. Ignoring the greats who came before you doesn’t make you cool, fresh or new. It makes you stupid, as often your works will cheap carbon copies of greater works you’re unaware that you’re even imitating.

Can you divorce reading from writing and still be a good writer?

10 thoughts on “Cheap carbon copies

  1. In answer to your final question, HELL NO! 🙂 Only somewhat relatedly, I generally feel sorry to some degree for people who have never truly experienced the transformative power of reading. What kind of life is that??

    • It’s an unfortunate life. I wouldn’t think, feel or see the same way if I hadn’t bee exposed to some of the works I’ve read.

      Thanks for your thoughts. I can’t think of any author that I’ve read that hasn’t been influenced by someone else’s work.

  2. At a certain point, after you’ve read a LOT and really know HOW to read beyond the story and have developed a sense of why a writer makes the choices he/she makes. Then I think a write might “stop” reading in that particular way. I did. I used to devour books and now I seldom read one. I’ve focused on my own writing for the past 16 years and reading has been related to what I need to learn. Only lately have I attempted to return to enjoying other people’s fiction. I discovered Jane Gardam last summer and was really delighted by her work both the stories and the style.

      • I think there are great works but many of them fit different times of life. Like reading The Old Man And the Sea in 9th grade — that’s insane. I hated it. At 25, I loved it, now it doesn’t interest me. I think you might like Emerson’s “The Poet.” It’s really, really beautiful and inspiring. 🙂

      • Okay, THAT one’s tough. Both forms feed the creative mind, and people like me… well, I’m always a hungry fool. Lol. But if I had to choose… I guess it be worse if I couldn’t ever read again. I don’t know. I’m a reader at heart, and I think I always will be. Gah. Let’s just say I am sosoooo glad we don’t have to choose one.

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