Reading anything good? What happens to your own voice?

There’s a Fridayread page on Facebook. People share what they’re reading and what they like in particular about that book.

I can’t join the discussion. I have nothing to share. When I’m writing, I can’t get into a book. It’s as if I’m afraid I’ll somehow ‘catch’ their voice and lose my own.

I keep Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca by my desk as my talisman to remind me of the power of characters. See my post here on the subject. Not only is Daphne one of my sources of inspiration, I find I’m safe with her. I can re-read her short stories and I know her voice won’t get into my head. I’d recognize it straight away and so I’d be able to stop it from turning up on my page.

But, if I’ve been reading Joanne Harris, for example, I know I’m going to start describing my settings the way she does. Before I knew it, there’d be sugary, powdery aromas in my sentences or Gothic shadows lurking in my paragraphs. If I’ve been reading Lee Child, to give another example, my characters would start acting out, different, sharp. Clipped sentences. Move in. Move on. Fast.

So, I don’t read when I’m writing. Except for dear old Daphne.

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