Do you have favorite writers whose work makes you yearn to be writing something yourself? Do they inspire you to run to the computer or at least jot down some sudden new ideas? A few writers’ works do that to me, and I have no idea why it’s those writers, rather than Charles Dickens, my favorite novelist of all time, or E.B. White, one of my favorite non-fiction writers.
For me, it’s George Eliot, of all people, and Rosemary Sutcliff, and sometimes Rudyard Kipling and Lewis Thomas, and a few others who’ve written more recently. I pick up one of their books and get into it a little and suddenly I’m in the mood to write. It’s not to show off, nor to try to write like they do, nor to challenge their mastery with my own efforts. I just want to express something as well as I can. I won’t achieve their facility of expression (I’ll still be only me, not him or her). But maybe my writing is better when inspired this way, because more heart is in it.
Madeleine L’Engle said something similar in her candid journal-book, A Circle of Quiet. Here’s what she says:
“A great painting, or symphony, or play, doesn’t diminish us, but enlarges us, and we, too, want to make our own cry of affirmation to the power of creation behind the universe. This surge of creativity has nothing to do with competition, or degree of talent. … A great novel, rather than discouraging me, simply makes me want to write. This response on the part of any artist is the need to make incarnate the new awareness we have been granted through the genius of someone else. … It is beauty crying out for more beauty.”