Here’s an interesting piece from Glimmer Train writer (and contest winner) Terrence Chang, who writes about the difficulty in following in the footsteps of the great writers who have gone before us.
“In graduate school I went through phases. I had my Cormac McCarthy phase, my Don DeLillo phase, my Tim O'Brien phase. Like a young athlete emulating his heroes, I paid homage to mine by copying their prosaic technique, voice, and style. McCarthy's sweeping vision, and long, stark, near-Biblical sentences; DeLillo's twisting language and genius sensibility; O'Brien's subtle potency, the conveyance of confusion, tragedy, and strange beauty in war. Story after story I tried to incorporate these traits and elements into my own work, until my advisor told me, "You're not Cormac McCarthy. Or DeLillo. Or Tim O'Brien. Just be you."
“The problem was that I didn't know who I was.”