Posts tagged Virginia Woolf
Posts tagged Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas
Well, this was the last Woolf book I had to (re)read for my class, so there probably won’t be any more Woolf (or Forster) quotes for a while.
You’re heartbroken, I know.
Since I started writing my thesis, several people have asked me which authors my writing is inspired by, or which authors I am trying to emulate. I think trying to emulate another writer can be a legitimate and successful way to write, but I personally don’t consciously try to do so. And I wonder, why am I supposed to? I am trying to develop my own voice and writing style. I don’t see how I could discover what that is without trying to be distinctly me.
I don’t want to intentionally become The Next… Whoever. I know that people inevitably describe books by comparing them to similar books, but that doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to pick an author to write like. And I know I am subconsciously influenced by writers. Virginia Woolf, for instance, is creeping into my thesis like she is creeping into my Tumblr, because I keep reading her books for my Woolf and Forster class. But that doesn’t mean I want to try to write like her. I like sentences that end eventually. And plots.
I also think that if I tried to write like someone else, it would probably end up feeling forced and contrived. I would much rather hear a discussion of my “influences” later than feel obligated to pick them now.
Reading a used copy of To the Lighthouse the other day, I glanced at a mysterious comment from a previous owner and thought: eBooks can never be books. You can never buy a used eBook (though price-wise buying a used eBook would be pretty pointless, anyways). You can never flip through the crinkly, stuck together pages of an eBook. An eBook will never have its own smell, or its own unique stains. And, perhaps most importantly, an eBook will never have the scrawled comments of an unknown previous reader, their emphatic underlinings, their faded highlights. An eBook will never have that connection to the readers of the past.
I understand the reasons that people like eBooks. I admit, begrudgingly, that eBooks are the wave of the future. But I do think that we tend to fix things that aren’t broken in the name of consumerism, and there is absolutely nothing broken about the unique community of me and the other people who have held this particular book between their eager fingers.
Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction”
I definitely feel sometimes like all the world’s inventions have already been invented. All we have left are infomercials. I guess that’s part of being “innovative,” living in the contemporary world and envisioning what more there could be. But I tend to look at this world and wonder what more crap we could possibly come up with, how many more ways we can discover to ultimately screw ourselves over and kill the whole planet.
But ideas go beyond physical inventions. Woolf, of course, is talking about fiction. And I’ve heard the argument that we will eventually run out of new combinations of notes to make new songs. We already recycle a lot of music, but I’m not sure that that’s the reason why.
Is it more difficult to be innovative today? To make something unique and new? Either way, it doesn’t stop us from trying.
Michael Cunningham, “Michael Cunningham: A life in writing,” The Guardian
Stumbled onto this article, which relates both to the fact that I just read The Hours and that I’m an aspiring writer.