20th December 2015
It used to be the fashion to tell prospective writers to go into the book shop and see what's selling. That way, you would know what to write.
You'd have to say that this advice lacks a certain historical perspective. Who was writing about wizards and muggles before Rowling? Who had ever heard of muggles? Who was writing about secret codes in quite the one-day-marvel way Dan Brown does? Or go back further: Who was writing about the Pisanos in California before Steinbeck or Middle Earth before Tolkein?
That's where your imagination should be - in Middle Earth, not glancing behind you at the other runners.
It's called a novel because it is novel, not because it is a rehashed bunch of ideas that hit the best seller list last year.
Get some historical perspective. It should be the overall message of these times we live in. If only those right wing Republicans on Capitol Hill could see where history is going to put them in this neo-facist movement they see fit to subscribe to. If only Mr. Trump could be quiet long enough to see how he squares up to any other populist leader who spewed out outrageous ideology. You want history on your side, because the history of mankind is an upward ascent and it leaves plenty of dross in its tracks.
My secret nightmare is that my writing will end up on the shelves of history's dross.
I strive very hard not to be writing dross. I try to make Middle Earth my touchstone. Call me Frodo. History is peopled with writers who were so buried in Middle Earth, they only became known after their deaths. Herman Melville, for one: Emily Dickinson, Emily Bronte, Edgar Allen Poe, Franz Kafka. The list goes on. So, get some perspective. Read the great writers of the past and learn from them. But don't make yourself in their image. Be yourself, and maybe along the way you will find your niche. Only time will tell.