Thursday, July 30, 2009

Walk this Way! Imprinting

As promised, here is part 2... One of my earliest friends grew up with a Biology professor for an father. She had some amazing experiences--the 12 foot freshwater fish tank in their living room, a skunk baby with the stinker removed… but I think my favorite is the duck who imprinted to her. At their house was a duck egg, and she watched it hatch, and that duckling proceeded to follow her everywhere… I suppose it isn’t such a stretch that a woman who weighs the same as a duck would imprint like one. It’s an odd skill… this mimic thing… but I do have a tendency to pick up some quirks from whomever I’m reading at the time I’m writing something. It’s not intentional, and I never copy actual contents or characters. But when my Digressionista, Mari, read CONFLUENCE, she observed something. “You know, the way you write some of these relationships reminds me of Amy Tan in the Bonesetter’s Daughter.” Now I haven’t read Bonesetter’s Daughter, but I was reading (slowly, and therefore through large sections of writing) Saving Fish From Drowning as I wrote CONFLUENCE. That isn’t to say I don’t have my own style, because in spite of it, I’ve been told a number of times, that no matter what genre I’m writing, my stories feel uniquely ‘Me’ (significant shortening pains, notwithstanding). So what is this ‘imprinting’ I seem to do? Does everybody do it? I sort of think it is like the way vocabulary creeps into the language of teens. If you hear something a certain way a couple times, it starts to seem like the way it ought to be said. I think my psychology background and people observation passion give me the ME flair (along with a certain playfulness that always comes through in a character or two) but the actual diction, I believe, may just be a function of participating in the human race, and I can’t see that as completely a bad thing.


*Kas* said...

Other people definitely do this too. I've noticed several times before that my writing tends to reflect the authors I'm reading. More details, more or less descriptions, different word usage maybe. I always attributed it to the fact that I pick up on things really easily (and always unintentionally) such as accents, or pronunciations, or specific words/phrases the people around me use often. Basically, you are not alone! ;)

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I’m wondering, is this a variation of the famous, or infamous, “Finding Your Voice,” thing? Don’t misunderstand, I’m not implying you’ve not done that, or don’t have your own unique style. I’m just wondering if maybe you’ve more than one voice, and, are still sorting through those to pick the one you like best. What do you think?

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Watery Tart said...

I actually feel fairly comfortable with my 'voice' provided I am writing long-hand for first draft. I believe my voice is solidly grounded in my psych background, so I have characters doing things for either rational reasons, or reasons for lack of being rational--very into human motivation (and our erring beliefs in them).

I guess when I say 'imprinting' it is more subtle stuff. I took a poetry writing class in college and we were supposed to read certain works and then write one of a similar style--I excelled at this. At the TIME (I was 19) I had a much harder time with original stuff that didn't obsess about a current or past love interest... poetry for me then, was a function of 'journaling' or sorting through feelings. (probably still would be, were I to attempt poetry).

My voice though, is very grounded in dialog (which is always where I start), which is very subject to speaking patterns--and THOSE logically change with character.

Is that making any sense? I think my overlap with Amy Tan comes easily because she explores both thoughts and flaws in perceptions, which I find fairly central to my approach too.

So hopefully that doesn't sound too defensive... I just think my blog theme might have stated too strongly what I was talking about..

Kas--I ADORE your writing, particularly your emotional stuff--you definitely also have your own voice, even if you pick up qualities from things you are still reading. It is the HEART in your writing that I see as your voice, and it always comes through.