Billy Collins (poet) believes we must read to be influenced, and suggests young people mimic their favorite writers in order to develop their skills and to develop their own voice.
I think many young writers do this. It’s a natural form of development.
Other writers are afraid to read when they’re writing; they don’t want to be influenced. I think by the point you develop your own voice, you won’t so easily be influenced.
I think reading Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion was imperative for me to stumble across. I’d never attempted to intimate him – but he took my understanding of writing and voice to a whole new level. The storyline, the use of language, and the originality of his voice was unlike anything I’ve ever read and it blew my mind.
What reading Ondaatje did for me was to help launch my voice and style. I say this because at the time, I was mired in instructors and writers telling me no, no, no. They so strongly believed in their own way of doing things, they didn’t allow other writers to develop in other ways. It was limiting.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – read far and wide! Do not be afraid of being influenced – open yourself to learning something new!
What’s better than coffee? FREE COFFEE! Or coffee that someone else bought for you. And that’s what happened to me the other day. I ordered my coffee and the guy said – “On me – because you’re a great teacher!”
That coffee tasted better than any coffee I’d had of late.
So – for you – free reads.
Here’s a story of mine – originally printed in Avatar: All the Beautiful People.
And here’s some freebies from other authors: 23 Free Stories
If you’re a kindle subscriber, there are many more stories!
The acceptance of being your own person, writing in your own style, not mimicking or falling in line.
I get a lot more rejections than I do acceptances, but I don’t dwell on the rejections.
There is an art to accepting or rejecting any work. And, although any acceptance is a happy occasion, a particular nice one such as this is always a joy to receive.
To update you on my publications of late –
Heaven’s Password is about a woman who finds herself in heaven, in a line reminiscent of the DMV, and is asked for a password. She’s not the most patient person and can’t remember ever setting up a password. Just like your bank account, you can’t get in without it! This was published in the The Survivor issue of P&G.
Bowie and the Basket Case is due out any day now from ID Press. When someone breaks into her house, Anna doesn’t readily find anything missing. But soon she realizes little things are disappearing and reappearing – is someone gas-lighting her?
The Healer’s Daughter was accepted by The Ear and will be out May 15th. Self explanatory title?
And finally, or so far, Voice of Eve has sent me the lovely acceptance above for my photography and three poems – as you’ve read – June 15th.
Thanks for reading, dear souls.
Wishing you much love and happiness.
The dreamcatcher is supposed to catch bad dreams and let the good dreams through.
Write down an image remembered from a dream, a word, a sound, a thought, into each space.
Then put them together – or leave them as is.
A dreamcatcher is random. Your poem might be as well. Yet, at some point, some place, in some way, it’ll all come together.
Dan Brown, Neil Gaiman, Judy Blume, and a number of other authors talk about writing in notebooks.
Blume says she fills it up from start to finish. I have to admit, a have a number of half empty notebooks. I keep them in various places, the car, the bedroom, dining room table, my desk. Then, I move them around, put them elsewhere and begin a new one before I rediscover the one I previously used.
I used to use big composition notebooks. These days I use smaller journal types.
Studies show that writing by long hand in a notebook uses a different part of the brain.
I wrote Grandma’s Last Secret by long hand in a notebook. I wrote the whole of West End in a notebook before I ever thought of touching the laptop. I feel like there’s a difference for me. And sometimes, the notebook is easier on the eyes, easier on the brain. I don’t feel as much pressure from a pen and paper that I do when I sit in front of the computer.
But I do write on the computer sometimes too. I sit down and I’ll write a story, sometimes, from start to finish on the computer without considering a notebook.
Do you use notebooks? Or computers? or Both? Feel free to share in our facebook group.
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
Some people feel they should not read others or study the masters because it will influence their voice; however, experts recommend that is where you begin in order to develop your voice. Finding your voice takes time and it takes writing, regardless of who you read. But you do, without a doubt, need to read far and wide.
Some authors are unhappy when readers see something in their story, novel, or poem that was not intended.
I subscribe to the theory of reader response. Our work is going to touch different people in different ways; readers are going to get out of it something related to what they bring to it, so if they don’t see what we originally intended, they are not wrong, nor did they read it wrong, they are merely giving the writer an insight.
I, personally, am thrilled when readers see something I hadn’t intended. For my novella, West End, one reader said the melancholy of the main character haunted her. Other readers believed some of the characters might have actually been spirits or ghosts. One of the characters, I left open. His questionable appearances deepened the story and the effects on the main character who is dealing with depression.
However, when another reader felt that the son might have been a ghost – it made me go back and reread my own work!
Once the story, novel, or poem is out there, readers are going to take away or put into it whatever is in their own toolbox and we can not control it. We may not like it – I had one person mistake me for one of my characters – but we do have to accept it. I usually thank the reader for their insights, regardless of what I feel about the response.
All readings are good readings!
If you’re interested in reading West End – it’ll be on sale Saturday and Sunday. And – then let me know what you think!