On Sounding like Yourself

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“Getting
it to sound right is always the big, crucial thing. When does it sound like me,
but not like an imitation of me? Unless you’ve gotten the voice right in the
beginning the whole enterprise is hopeless—every paragraph is going to lurch
around, bumping into things. Once I manage to get the first couple of pages to
move along, all my notes start to chirp and I’m happy…

I know I’m
going to sound like myself whether I like it or not. There’s nothing you can do—you
can’t take some chemical or read some book that will change you into a
different kind of writer. I’ve seen writers and journalists fall under the
spell of somebody and write strangely for a couple months. But they go back to
their own ways because their own ways are inescapable.”

Nicholson
Baker, from The Sound on Paperby Ben
Yagoda

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