This, in particular the second part, resonated with me. In an age where Search Engine Optimization sometimes seems to want to reduce writing to a syntactically correct string of key words and search terms, this subtle pressure to ‘always, always write like somebody else’ is something I think about a great deal.
One of the hardest things about writing is to create, or find, your own voice, and to then be attuned to it, and not be distracted by the siren song of standard techniques, let alone of Search Engine Optimization.
In this quotation, I liked Orlando’s honest vulnerability and her tenacity in cleaving to saying what she thinks and writing how she wants. Tenacity in spite of the tears.
‘… she somehow got the impression – here she rose and walked – they made one feel – it was an extremely uncomfortable feeling – one must never, never say what one thought. (She stood on the banks of the Serpentine. It was a bronze colour; spider-thin boats were skimming from side to side.) They made one feel, she continued, that one must always, always write like somebody else. (The tears formed themselves in her eyes).’
Source: Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography, ed. with an introduction by Rachel Bowlby (Oxford: World’s Classics, 1992), p. 272
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