It has been advised repeatedly, that to be a better writer, we must dedicate ourselves to on-going reading. I’ll admit, most of the books I’ve read in the past few years have been related to “how to be a better writer”. It’s ironic, really. Does this mean I’ll be doubly good at my craft because I’m pairing both reading and reading on writing? One can only hope.
I’ve moved on to the classics, or to authors most celebrated. I am reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I have reached the seventh chapter and already I am consumed by the eloquence of Steinbeck’s prose. His writing has such beautiful abandon, his sentences never-ending, the way he wraps words in such an amazing package that you never tire of the phrasing – you want the story go on forever, even if he’s venerating a strip of land in California for going-on twelve pages.
I dream of this brilliance in my writing.
So, riddle me this: could an author today be as descriptive, as abandoned – so ubiquitous that not a single matter would remain unimagined – as John Steinbeck?
It’s doubtful. In the age of 120 characters or less, slush piles and market-fanatic publishers – where has depth of character and narrative description gone? With each snip, cut and tweak I make to my book In Wake of a Following, the more worried and doubtful I become. Am I leaving out the very details that bring quality to my work?
Some will say I’m being too one-sided, and that if I search hard, I’ll find proof the Great American Novelist exists. Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is like a carrot dangling in my face; and #2 on my reading list as a current, celebrated author. I remain hopeful.
Question: do you feel revisions, in the name of forward momentum, damage your writing style?