A few years back, I finished a draft of a novel. I sent it to a few of my old college professors for feedback. They were not encouraging and rightfully so.
“You don’t have a voice,” was the first thing one of them said. “You sound like Jack Kerouac doing a David Foster Wallace impression.”
Despite the difficulty I hearing my mentors tells me I should do something else–anything else!–with my life, there was a small victory in hearing this. Kerouac was one of my idols at the time and to hear my writing compared to his meant something.
We find our artistic identity by trying to emulate our heroes, but missing the mark.
Miles Davis once said, “Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.”