I don’t mind being compared to other writers, but I sometimes worry that the comparisons are inaccurate.
When I first started writing I noticed that I would copy the style of what I had recently read. On one level this was great, read Geoffrey Archer, churn out cash – not that I ever did. More worryingly it meant that I was unable to find my true voice. This was concerning at the time.
I had a friend, years ago, who was a musician. He was always trying to churn out replica hits to whatever was around in the charts at the time. The problem for him was that by the time he had penned the ditty in question the circus had left town. I have decided that trying to appeal to an audience is self-defeating. This is akin to trying to write a top 10 chart hit. Some people have the craft to do this. Steve Harley wrote ‘Judy teen’ because there wasn’t a hit single on his first album. Impressive, but I think writers face a huge range of challenges if they try to go down this route.
Another former acquaintance was a Jazz guitarist. Jazz guitar is, from my perspective, on a par with writing about your toenails. I am sure some people are interested, it just doesn’t float my boat. I can sort of appreciate the virtuoso, but that too me is the equivalent of chucking in big adjectives and Latin phrases, might impress some, but it doesn’t float my boat. For him though, Jazz was Art. I’ve never taken the same approach in respect of my writing
In the end I write to engage with my readers if to entertain an audience. That doesn’t mean I’m low brow. ‘After Alyson’ was, in part, an exploration of Mark Garvey’s inability to control his continuous desire, it drew on Buddhist teachings. Equally, Kieran, in ‘Snatched’ struggles with the moral conflicts of his job as a child trafficker. First and foremost though it’s about keeping my readers engaged.
‘Playing the Pools’ continues this trend. At its heart it is a simple tale of a heist and a man who longs for a better life. Concurrently, it addresses faith, loyalty & identity.
Whilst I have nowhere near the gifts, the writer who has had the strongest influence on me is Graham Greene. His stories are multi-layered and about people in conflicts. It seems quite hard to access his works now, few are in public libraries and finding titles on line is increasingly difficult. I suppose writers become unfashionable, with Greene I fail to understand why. Despite his themes influencing what I write about, I haven’t been aware of copying his style.
When you find your writer’s voice you find your style. ‘Playing the Pools’ has been compared to Roddy Doyle. Again, Doyle is a fantastic story teller, but the only real comparison I can detect is that we both write about ordinary lives that encounter difficult challenges. In the end I write as me, not as a ‘tribute act’ to others. All that matters is that readers engage and are left wanting a tiny bit more.
Until next time.