Monday, June 22, 2009

Is it the real turtle soup or only the mock?

imitation--a process followed by beginning and intermediate writers in which they sedulously copy the style, concept, and attitude of established writers whom they admire or whose success they envy.

Imitation is useful up to an educational point, but once that education is achieved, the writer needs to move on to the risky business of discovering the self that awaits. As the sale price of an individual hardcover title increases, it becomes particularly apparent that the reader is going to want to get originality, not imitation for the $26 price tag. Why would a reader want to spend $26 for an imitation of Annie Proulx when, for the same $26, the real thing could be had. The writer's best opportunity for finding an audience comes as a result of the risk taking that provides original voice and ideas of dramatic deployment. It is not only possible but admirable to learn from other writers, living or dead. The time comes, however, when this learning must be recast into the writer's own words and feelings.

Intermediate- and experienced-level writers, having discovered their voices, themes, and lines of dramatic attack run the risk of self-parody when they begin imitating themselves, the ideal being that each new project is a launching of the ship of discovery on the vast ocean of enthusiasm.

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