|The Insecure Writer's Support Group|
IWSG = Insecure Writers' Support Group (click for the link). We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy and practical suggestions.
Visit the site - and visit the co-hosts:
Gwen Gardner, Dolorah, Sarah Foster, and M. Pax!
This month I'm talking about 'Clone Wars'. Not the Star Wars type. I mean the fear people have about copying others. Bec0ming too much like others, losing their sense of who they, themselves, are. Getting overwhelmed by something that causes them to lose their voices.
We are told that writers need to read. That writers who do not read end up shriveling up and blowing away. So we must read. Read a lot, read widely, read to enjoy, read to learn, read in order to learn how to write, much as an apprentice used to sit and watch the Master make a masterpiece.
And at the same time, we are cautioned against plagiarism. Now, I am absolutely against plagiarism. I have seen some shocking examples lately from groups that expose plagiarism. Often, someone has cut and pasted something from fanfiction. You can't do things like that. It is illegal, immoral and stupid. But what of the person who encounters a way of looking at things, a way of describing things, that he or she embraces wholeheartedly and seeks to imitate. Not copy: imitate.
But what if you find something so overpoweringly fabulous, you end up lost in it, overwhelmed by it, transfixed by it to the point that you can't say what you want to say, feel as you think you ought. You are stunned, almost like someone who has fallen in love at first sight. I remember the almost stammering reaction I had to the magnificent end of the third episode of Star Wars (not the prequels - don't get me started on them). I felt breathless.
So... it could be bad. But it could be good. Okay, I get that - but why is it so important? What could I possibly gain from that - and what do I stand to lose?
What do you stand to lose?
I think of the great books I've read, some of which are actually acknowledged to be great books. Watership Down, Eagle in the Snow, The Lord of the Rings, The Rose of Old St. Louis (not a classic book, but an indispensable), The Dean's Watch, Green Dolphin Street, and many more. They made me see things with new eyes, to stand back and evaluate how I felt about tings, what moved me. Some left me breathless. With each of them I felt as though I were looking at my world through new eyes.
Did I feel overwhelmed? Not really. I think it was more a feeling of finding what was right, what was true.
I found a quote I love:
"Expose yourself to excellence, and you will be excellent. Expose yourself to mediocrity, and you will be mediocre. Read the right books, watch the right shows, eat the right foods and engage with the right people. The rest is just a distraction from excellence."