— or… To Which Other Author Does My Writing Compare?
By Jeff Salter
This week’s topic: If a prospective publisher asked you to compare your work to that of one or two well-known authors, whom would you choose?
Well, this topic threw me… for several reasons.
1. I was pretty sure I’ve previously blogged on this very matter… but a diligent search of the 4F1H archives did not reveal such a post. [So it must have been for some other blog… or for an actual publisher questionnaire.]
2. I truly don’t believe I write much like anyone else. And I don’t mean to imply that my writing is super-unique… just that it seems (to me) different from all the other authors I’ve read during my many decades of recreational reading, my school classes (K-12), my attainment of a Bachelor’s Degree with an English Major… or during my 30-year career in librarianship.
I have run across two well-known authors, from whom two particular pieces have reminded me of my VOICE… and both are in the area of autobiographical recollections.
The first is Jean Shepherd, who wrote the story upon which the popular film “A Christmas Story” was based. When I saw that movie and heard Shepherd’s own wry voice in the intermittent narration, I had a true sense of recognition: “That’s what my own memoirs sound like.” Now I know what some of you are thinking: Jeff saw that movie and then wrote his own memoirs using a similar voice. Nope. That film was initially released (in the U.S.) on 11-18-1983, re-released (U.S.) on 11-21-1984… and only later appeared on HBO (or whichever cable network that I saw it on). Whereas I wrote the first volume of my own memoirs off-and-on between the summer of 1981 and the autumn of 1983, long before I’d ever even heard of Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB rifle.
The other author voice that sounds like me – or vice-versa, if you prefer – is Bill Bryson’s. Not so much his travel books or his investigatory treatments of things like houses, language, Shakespeare, etc. — but his own childhood recollections, 2007’s “Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.” In that book, I heard a voice rather similar to my own. Bryson is within a year of my own age, so we each grew up during the 1950s… with several similar experiences.
With these as the only two examples I can grasp, you can easily understand how difficult it is for me to respond to such a topic as this. Having said that, I wonder if Jean Shepherd or Bill Bryson would read my writing and say, “Hey, he has a voice that sounds like ME!”
Question # 1:
If you’ve read any of my novels or novellas, does my writing remind you of any other author’s?
Question # 2:
If you’re a writer, is there a well-known author who writes similarly to you?
[JLS # 566]