The following is a guest post by client, Ruth Horowitz. Ruth is an amazing writer who I met a few years ago. When I first read her manuscript it cemented my determination to be a literary agent because I just fell in love with it. I wanted all my friends, family, acquaintances, strangers on the street, to read this book. Ruth is the kind of writer I’m envious of. She’s a master of the craft, smart, funny, and has a great work ethic. Ruth blogs at Giving Up The Ghost.
I have done lots of different kinds of writing over the years. The list includes picture books, newspaper stories, sermons, easy-readers, political campaign copy, a love advice column, and fiction for adults. Each of these formats has its own conventions, and shifting between them means slipping in and out of different personae. Sometimes, when I sit down to write, I have to ask myself, who am I today?
If the answer doesn’t come easily, I use my ears. At least, that’s what it feels like. I pick up a sample of the sort of piece I’m trying to produce and read a random sentence or two. Once I’ve got the right sound in my head, I’m usually good to go. (Or at least better to go.)
Of course, sometimes, even when I’ve been writing the same sort of thing for years, I sit down to work and have to ask myself, who am I as a writer? When that happens, I turn to the writers who inspire me. The ones whose work makes me wish I had written it myself. The ones I like to imagine I could have written it myself, if only I were, well, them.
I’ll walk over to my bookcase and pull out something by, say, Jhumpa Lahiri, John Updike, Ursula Hegi, Jayne Anne Phillips, or the late, great, sadly under-read Canadian novelist, Margaret Laurence. I’ll read a sentence here and there, until I remember why I love this writer so much. Why I love writing so much. Why I wanted to become a writer in the first place. Then I’ll sit down and write my own story.
Do you write by ear? Who inspires you?