Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Writing Under the Influence . . . of a Favorite Author
Posted by Jennifer Lamont Leo
"To book salesmen, she was a combination of Simon Legree and Mary Pickford. The people in her own section adored her, respected her, and were scared to a pulp of her. She maintained her absolute sovereignty over publishers by the artful device of selling more of their books than any other retailer even approached. . . . If Mrs. Hahner liked a book she made it a bestseller. Carl Sandburg's The Prairie Years was published in 1926. It was a beautiful book, but it cost $10 [ed. a lot of money in 1926] and its author had not then a following comparable to Zane Grey's. Mrs. Hahner read an advance copy of The Prairie Years, clasped it passionately to her bosom, and placed an initial order for one thousand copies, to the hysterical astonishment of the publishers. . . . As quickly as the publishers had recovered their powers of articulation, the little orders were instantly stepped up proportionately to Marshall Field's, and Mr. Sandburg soared to the financial stratum sparsely populated by Zane Grey and a few other writing inhabitants." (Through Charley's Door, pp. 191-192).
Later on, I might be working on a different project that calls for a different tone, and I will have to choose a different muse to inspire me. But for now, even though Miss Kimbrough died in 1989, she is still "mentoring" me through her books.
Who is your muse? If someone were to say of your writing, "This piece sounds a lot like _________ wrote it," what name would you insert in the blank? Hemingway? Fitzgerald? J. K. Rowling? Consider beginning your writing sessions by reading a few pages of a favorite author's work, until you're steeped in his or her voice. Then write the piece that only you can write.