Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ask me a different question

I was asked whose writing ability I'd like to have and if I would choose write like them permanently.

Why would I want another author's writing ability? Ask me if I want their prolific output (yes) or their earnings (most definitely), but not their writing ability.

While I admire many authors and learn from their techniques, or lack of technique, I don't want to write like anyone but myself. How can I tell the stories of my life and experiences if I'm doing it through another writer's senses and styles? I've no doubt Ray Bradbury has spent some time in Central and South America, but he has not seen or known what I lived with every day in Panama. The way he saw the airport landing strip cut out of the bloody jungle clay is not the same way I saw it as a small child with the bloody clay dripping, congealing and clotting on the black macadam of the strip as the plane touched down.

John Steinbeck saw human waste during the great exodus of middle America and the people displaced crowding into tent cities on the California coast angling for jobs picking grapes or lettuce or whatever they could do to stay alive another hour, another day, another week. He saw the crumbling fish canning factories along the Pacific coast and the lives that washed up among the broken boilers and near empty diners. Had he seen the flood of people caught in the Mississippi levees in New Orleans, it wouldn't have been from the level of the street where getting a license to paint faces or sketch in pastels or tell fortunes with tarot cards was the ticket to a better life than pushing a Lucky Dog cart into the eddies and currents of tourist traffic in the Vieux Carre, but I did. He saw it from a loftier perch and I saw it from with stale hot dog steam in my eyes with my stomach cramping from hunger while partying tourists bought hot dogs they ate dripping catsup, mustard, relish and onions less than a foot away.

I admire many writers and I enjoy their different styles for many reasons, but the only ability I want is the ability to share my stories with a world wide audience and make enough money so I don't have to split my time between earning a living and doing what I love the most -- writing. Ask me a different question.

That is all. Disperse.

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