Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Who Would You Be? by Keren David

It’s unusual to be completely thrown by a question from the audience, but a teenager in the audience at my most recent event managed to do just that.
The event was the Hay Festival, my fellow panellists were Sally Nicholls and Anne Cassidy and the question was this: ‘If you could be any other writer, who would you be?’
‘Homer,’ said Sally, for his wonderful stories and use of language.  ‘J K Rowling,’ said Anne, ‘just think of the money.’
I mumbled something about Shakespeare, but it wasn’t really true, and over the last few weeks I’ve been wondering which writer I should have picked. Anne Tyler, whose novel ‘The Accidental Tourist’ is written so beautifully that I have line-envy on every page? Antonia Forest, because then I’d know more about the Marlows, possibly my favourite family in children’s fiction? Hilary McKay for creating the Casson family, who run the Marlows a close second? Lauren Child, because I’d love to have her visual imagination? Jodie Picoult or Joanna Trollope, because I feel I could do what they do, but then I wouldn’t have to do it and I’d have all their royalties.
No. The answer, I realised was simple. I write because I like to create my own stories. I don’t want to write other people’s books or plays, even if they are more lucrative than mine, win more awards, are better written. I don’t want to be another writer, is what I should have said. I just want to work on being an even better version of me.

How about you? Is there an author you’d like to be? 


Sue Bursztynski said...

I think we all have times when we read something and say, "I wish I'd written that!" But no, as you say, I'd like to be me, only better.

Joan Lennon said...

P.G. Wodehouse! For his joyful heart and wicked way with words!

Nick Green said...

I'd have a slightly different answer: I'd want (for a little while) to be someone who isn't me, so I could read my own books and see if I'd like them. That's something a writer can never really know.

For the same reason, I wouldn't want to be any of my favourite writers, because then I wouldn't be able to read their books as a reader.

Emma Barnes said...

Ooh Keren - another Antonia Forest fan here! It always feels a bit of a secret club. She's definitely the writer I'd love to meet, if not be.

But writers don't lead the most exciting lives, really...there are plenty of books I love, but if I'm going to spend my time sitting at a laptop writing, I want to do it as me.

Susan Price said...

I frequently think, 'I wish I'd written that!'
And then I realised that the sentence actually continued. 'I wish I'd written that! - But if I'd written that, I wouldn't have written that.'
Because your own personality and experience is going to alter even something you admire tremendously.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Nick Green... a brilliant comment!
But I must add I wouldn't have minded writing the first page of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Sheena Wilkinson said...

I'm totally with Emma -- for the Antonia Forest admiration (I wrote a chapter of my PhD about her - about friendship in her novels) and also the wanting to be just ME.

Which doesn't mean I don't massively envy what some writers can do -- but that's one of the spurs to trying to improve what I DO write.