My Books & Stories (Amazon Page)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How To Embarass A Writer

I recently had a poster on another website forum email me, essentially asking for advice, but one of the things the poster said in their message damn near made my hair stand on end.

I quote,

I downloaded a sample of Hatchings, and it seems to be a very American contribution to the British school of Guy N Smith, Graham Masterton and James Herbert. Good show, old chap, haha.

Now, of course, I denied being anywhere near as good as these Masters. In response, the poster stated,

Right, right, I meant 'in the vein of the Brits', not quite 'on the level of' :), although there's really not much difference between what I read of your style and Smith's. In fact yours may be a tad better, but he had the luck of entering the field in the middle of the 70's horror boom. Like entering the romantic werewolf field today, I guess.

If you want to embarrass a writer, this is an excellent way to go at it. Its incredibly flattering, but there's no way I believe I'm anywhere near as good as Masterson, Smith, or Herbert. I'm getting better, but I'm not there yet.

I do find it interesting that the poster noted that my work appeared to be a very American contribution in the same vein as the British Masters he cites. My early upbringing was in a household in the middle of Ohio with a very Scottish patriarchy, a very close relationship to England, and a matriarchal lineage that was also very English and German. There've been times I've been caught slipping into accented conversation when I didn't even realize I was doing it. In addition, for years I used certain wordage in my writing that was very English without even realizing I was doing it wrong for an American audience or in accordance with American English.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a proud American and I'm proud of my heritage.

I just never quite realized how deeply that heritage had actually affected everything I do.

All writers have heritages. Our stories, our characters, our mannerisms are based in our heritage, probably on a much deeper level than we realize. We show a certain face to the outside world, but our stories are dredged up from deep within our psyches. There's a point where we cannot distinguish what's in our psyche and what's flowing from our fingers in our stories.

Please, forgive us. We too, are products of our heritage.

And because I'm a product of my heritage, it's both embarrassing and incredibly elevating to be compared to, or placed in the same vein as, certain Master writers.

Mostly embarrassing right now.

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