Last night I went to an interesting talk by Dr Jeremy Harvey about Edgar Degas. I was struck by the fact that Degas spent the early years of his life copying the great masters and, by doing so, learning how they produced masterpieces and how he could develop his own skills, style and vision.
I wonder if writers do this enough. When I ran a creative writing class I was always surprised how little fiction was read by my aspiring writers. Perhaps e-books such as Kindle will help encourage people to read more widely.
My tutor on the UEA course, Stephen Carver, always emphasised the importance of reading critically with a view to learning from them. We also had to write a genre story which was a fascinating exercise and one I would recommend. The result of this was my western story 'Big Shot' which has been described as where Hollywood meets Spaghetti Western. It can be found in 'Pick and Mix.'
So here's to reading and learning from our masters and also to playing with our writing by trying out different genres. You never know, you may find a genre which is your particular forte.