I was listening to Brahms first symphony on classical radio this morning. The announcer reported that poor Brahms was hailed as a Beethoven successor, and expected to write like Ludwig, and even better. What an act to follow! Johannes wrote beautiful music for twenty years before he composed his first symphony.
We writers are also faced with esteemed, talented authors whom we admire. I wanted to write like C.S. Lewis. If only my writing could be as deep and insightful, it would make people think.
But–I am not C.S. Lewis. God wants me to write like ME, the person He made me to be. I cannot add another story to C.S. Lewis’ legacy; or Jane Austen’s or John Steinbeck’s. I could imitate, but never enter in to who they were; I’ll never see the world and life as they saw it.
On the other hand, it might be easier to imitate my favorite writers, than to peel off the layers of ME, and be “real” in my writing as they were. I can read my favorite poet William Stafford, and be inspired to reach deep inside as he did, but what I find there will be vastly different from what he found.
So, while it is good to be inspired by reading great authors’ works, we cannot ever touch a reader by pale imitation, no matter how well we study and perfect another’s technique. We must break down barriers, search our own souls and bring out the truths that God has put within. That will touch a reader. That’s why He made us writers.