The Next Tolkien
by MW Cook
I don’t want to read him.
Not even a tiny bit.
It would be like watching Aladdin 2. It would be like watching the live-action version of Blood: The Last Vampire. Why would I do it when the original is better in every single way possible?
So why do writers want to be rehashed greats?
If you ever, in your creative journey, imagine yourself to be the next Tolkien or Hemingway or Lewis or Eliot, stop. Stop right there. Don’t write another word. Because you’re doing something horrible.
The world does not want another Hemingway. We have him. He’s immortalized in the things he’s created. We don’t need another. We need you. We need your thoughts. Your ideas. Your love and wit and stories.
Don’t aspire to be like anyone you’ve read. Aspire to be yourself.
This is why so many urban fantasies seem exactly the same, today. Too many people want to be the next Meyer. And that’s why there were so many young-kid-turns-wizard books a few years ago. Too many people wanted to be the next Rowling. Not nearly enough people were brave enough to strike out on their own, find their own voice and stories, and pour themselves into their work.
You remember those bracelets people used to wear with WWJD on them? Good advice for life, to be sure. But some people are tempted to put on WW(insert favorite author here)D when they are writing.
But what would you do? What would you write?
Excellent reminder that we need to find our own voice and create our own identity.
I get your point, but in all fairness, Tolkien’s books have a LOT of flaws. He does great worldbuilding – unparalleled worldbuilding, he pretty much wrote the book, all puns intended – but he’s got awful pacing, and a tin ear for dialogue. Maybe you don’t want the next Tolkien, but a better Tolkien might not be so bad.