Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A.S. Seen Through D.H.

I'm reading Antonia Susan Byatt's novel Possession for the third time. I first read it, I don't know, maybe fifteen years ago? Maybe ten? Some while it's been, that's all I know. Anyway, between the last time I read Possession and this time, I read David Lawrence's Women In Love. Lawrence has a pretty identifiable prose style, I think, especially when he's talking about his characters' emotional states. These odd sequences of short declarations: "He was angry. His hand was in a fist, hid under his coat. She saw but ignored his anger. She was livid herself." Stuff like that, but with a bit more color. Anyway, I keep seeing this sort of thing in the Byatt. Which fascinates me so I mention it. It doesn't bother me and it fits in with all the surrounding prose and hell, it's been there this whole time after all and didn't need me to take note of it but for some reason I seem to be seeing lines of influence in the writing all around me. Real or imagined, I can't say. Influence is such an iffy prospect as it is.


  1. Influence is such an iffy prospect as it is.

    Which is why I can't read anything when I'm writing. And I've been writing for almost two years straight now. Once I get this last book done and out to query, I plan on taking the summer off and read until my eyes bleed.

  2. Some people say that your own writer's voice should be so strong that you can't be influenced by reading another writer. Those people are idiots. Good writing influences whatever it touches, and I read with the hopes of being touched by the grace of authors better than me.

    That said, I'm weird about who I'll read when writing. I avoid books that look like they might tread the same territory I'm in and I have a fear of being "infected" by prose. Infected is exactly how I think of it, too. But we don't write in or from a vacuum, so the whole exercise is sort of anti-humanity.

    Still, I don't really believe in a writer "finding his own voice." I do believe in finding the right voice (or a right voice) for the piece you're writing.

  3. But I missed your bigger point: it's so fucking glorious to just be a reader, to have nothing to write and to just be able to wallow in reading, reading, reading. I'm taking a break myself after I finish rewrites on Cocke & Bull. I just decided that.

  4. hi Scott because I've been rewriting my darn thing for about some five years now, it is sort of true, that what i read won't sway the voice

    though re-writing is much much different than first draft stuff

    then the words are so like little leaflets in a wind blown about by the prose of merci hopefully whoever i'm reading is a voice i admire

  5. Layne, yeah, first draft versus rewrites is a world of difference. "Hopefully whoever I'm reading is a voice I admire" is sort of what I mean by my fear of being infected by writing I don't particularly like.

    Hey, we should drink together soon. I promise not to yell, "My Hamlet's not like that!" this time.