Thursday, October 10, 2002


There comes a time when, as a writer or poet, you must deliberately engage in subversion, and deliberately misread the text of your predecessors. This is one of the ways you can begin to grow beyond their influence, by finding flaws in something you once held sacrosanct and lacunae in what was once (to you) impervious. You must learn to question and seek errors.

Otherwise, you cannot progress, will never find your own unique voice, never develop your own words, style or manner. While it is impossible to be completely devoid of influences, you can determine to be conscious of just what is affecting you and take steps to distance yourself – aesthetically, intellectually, stylistically – or be condemned to act like your father (or fathers).

Very Freudian, but quite sensible.

And for me, this is an ongoing process, because occasionally I realize that I’m being influenced by so-and-so writer (because I found his/her style engaging most likely). It triggers a reaction in me. I read and reread the work of that particular author and compare it to my current work and try to see just how I’m adapting. Then I take steps to put some distance, not out of fear of being a clone, but out of respect for that author and because I need to fine tune my-own voice.

For people who do not write, such concerns seem trivial. But for me, the self-inflicted self-aware agony of growth is part-and-parcel of the entire process.

Then again, you could just write and not worry about it.


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