We writers all have our favorite authors. I know I do. And it’s not unusual for an aspiring writer to try to imitate his or her favorite authors. I know I did.
Editors, professors and friends use to tell me to stop trying to write like Hemingway. And they were right. I did try to imitate Hemingway; but my imitation had a purpose. I was trying to learn how to do some of the things he did in his fiction so that I could do them in my fiction. Of course, there were other authors I tried to imitate: John O’Hara and Raymond Carver just to name two.
And an interesting thing happened. The more I tried to imitate my favorite authors the more I began to find my own voice, style and subject matter.
So, don’t worry about imitating your favorite authors. Just understand that you still must find your own voice, style and subject matter.
Hello hello hello, my brother and sister readers and writers from all over the world! It’s an overcast, cold (29) day in Pittsburgh. And the next few days will be about the same. Snow flurries drift past my windows.
I’ve never thought about living any other place. Pittsburgh is my Paris. The Old Soldier doesn’t have the wander lust that so many of his favorite authors had. Hemingway and Kerouac come to mind. I always figured that my hometown would provide me with all the characters and raw material that I needed for my fiction. And the city has done just that.
As a matter of fact, now that I’m retired and I don’t have to work for my money, I can give more attention to the city than what I could give to it while I was still working for a living.
But whether a writer travels or stays put, being a writer demands that you not only learn the mechanics of using words, but that you also learn how to draw on your imagination and on the life that you live no matter where you live it.
In this way you will never run out of material.
This is the Old Soldier reporting from near the University of Pittsburgh.