Maybe a Writer Should Not Read


I hate my favorite author.

He writes, of course, the kind of story I like best, and in a superior style.  His prose, at times, unfolds the most sublime metaphor – the kind which can blur the line between prose and poetry.

I’ve read a paragraph, alone in some corner of the world, and felt compelled to exclaim aloud the fucking brilliance of his fucking words.  And then I’ll read that paragraph a second time for the sheer joy of the tickling in my skull it produces.

I don’t hate my favorite author because he shows me what could be, but that I can never bring to a page.  Now that I think about it – maybe I do – or should – hate him for that.  Just a little.

No, the reason I hate my particular favorite author is because he does all this, and keeps me glued to every word, with an outsized use of the passive tense.

It does not bother me when I am reading it.  In fact, it is perfect.

But as soon as it is my turn to write, all I’ve got is “the sea was stormy” and “the plan is rotten” and “the sex will be gray”.  The intruder never storms the castle, the hero never forsakes good advice, and she never takes him by force – he is just taken.

We all know the trite saying that you are what you eat.  I keep waiting to wake up and find that I am a bowl of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, with an extra cheese packet added.  Maybe that saying is not quite true.  I live on that hope.

What we read, however, can affect what we write.  We pick up more of the form than the brilliance, it seems.

The logical conclusion is that you, if you’re a writer, should read mediocre authors who follow Strunk and White’s rules.



P.S.  Thou doth best avoideth Shakespeare and the Bible when thou art writing.




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