Tuesday, 24 February 2009


I know writers (honest), especially novelists, who steer clear of (other people’s) fiction when working on a book. Their concern would be unconsciously borrowing ideas, perhaps a phrase, even just a word. Others are content to read work significantly dissimilar to their own, reducing the likelihood of such purloining. This is not something I’m able to do, though. The fiction I tend to want to read is inextricably bound to my own aesthetic output. I can’t imagine it being any different. The books that thrill me as a reader, inspire me as a writer. To not indulge myself with a few literary novels each month feels unnecessarily monastic to me. I can’t imagine (insert musician of choice) not listening to any (insert related musical genre) whilst making an album.

I’m just going to have to trust myself.


(And look out for a competition coming here soon. Win a holiday for two* plus a fine collection of short fiction. *This first part is likely untrue)



In theory, I agree with you. In practice i always have avoided fiction when I'm writing fiction, or at least fiction of vaguely the same sort. It's not quite that I'm trying to avoid being influenced; it's something deeper and more intangible, more like needing to keep the fiction / creative part of my brain focused on the writing. It's an instinct, anyway.

Healthy word count going on there, Tom!

TOM J VOWLER said...

I suppose, Nicola, I came to books at a relatively late time in life (late for reading, that is), and so I feel I'm playing catch up. When planning this novel I told myself I'd read short story collections for the year, but sometimes only a novel will do!

A steady trickle, yes.

Anne Brooke said...

I worry about writers who say they don't read when they're writing. How can anyone not read??? It's where I get all my ideas from anyway. Well, that and the TV of course. I don't have any ideas of my own!



Douglas Bruton said...

I see that climbing word count... good show.


TOM J VOWLER said...

Shhh, Anne, you're not supposed to say that!

Thanks, Douglas.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

But we get so much from those who wrote before us, as others who write after us will take from us. Nothing is new....

Carver used Chekhov snippets. And his wife gave Carver's unused snippets from his notebook to other writers.