(10 of 40) Imitation

May I add William Faulkner to my steering committee? I'm sure the two of us would have a great conversation about steers -- and bulls -- and whether or not "a steering committee" is truly a good idea.

But to the subject of this post. I am a great believer in imitation. If you study the old, dead writers you discover that as part of their education they had to copy out works by the masters. Often they were copying Latin dialogues or treatises into English, but they were writing them out, putting Virgil or Homer or Socrates into their own hand. Artists still do this, spending a considerable portion of their apprenticeship on copying. I don't know why the practice has fallen out of fashion for writers.

So here's a passage from William Faulkner's "Dry September":


Through the bloody September twilight, aftermath of sixty-two rainless days, it had gone like a fire in dry grass--the rumor, the story, whatever it was. Something about Miss Minnie Cooper and a Negro. Attached, insulted, frightened: none of them, gathered in the barber shop on that Saturday evening where the ceiling fan stirred, without freshening it, the vitiated air, sending back upon them, in recurrent surges of stale pomade and lotion, their own stale breath and odors, knew exactly what had happened.

"Except it wasn't Will Mayes," a barber said.


And here's my imitation...I think it was worth doing, even though I went off the rails:

All through a wet June, days of sopping, gray, indoor weather, we dreamed of it--our summer of no plans spread across sun-struck days. No school. Too young for jobs, lazy, restless: each mother's child of us watched TV or played endless games of Go Fish and Crazy Eights while it rained and rained and rained, and we still imagined wringing from our summer vacation every drop of sugar, every whiff of strawberries and fresh green beans, every drop of indolent pleasure to be had if only the sun would shine.

"What we need is a canoe," Jacy said.