February 11, 2017 @ 5:57 PM

Seven sensible steps to success as an author:

Step 2 (continued): Giants of the past…


One of the most important lessons we learn from reading widely is the knowledge that there is very little that’s original in even our most profound ideas about the human condition.

Someone, somewhere, has probably expressed much the same notion before: and the most we can usually do is to add some variation and nuance to it drawn from personal experience.

Which doesn’t mean that it’s not worth saying: merely to acknowledge that, like a palaeontologist, we’re on the upper layer of a literary stratum that descends deep into the past.

Joyce … Dickens … Gibbon … Milton … Shakespeare … Chaucer … Virgil … Plato … Homer.

These are the giants, as Sir Isaac Newton might have put it, on whose shoulders we writers stand. As we will form the loam that future generations may till.

Certainly a regular diet of good books will develop your own literary taste … influence your own style and approach in ways that are often quite unsuspected.


Next: Plagiarism…


Photo: The 'Chandos' portrait of Shakespeare. Wikimedia Commons.