Read to become a better writer. There is much free advice around, but this is certainly true. Not to copy, perhaps to imitate or customise, but mainly to feed off the ideas and develop your own style, or Voice, as the How To books call it.
I have just finished reading the excellent and refreshingly brief ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ by Mohsin Hamid. It’s a clever and concise first person monologue with a subtly delivered message. A thought leads to an association, and I found myself re-reading Shelley’s poem Ozymandias. A tenuous association, I hear you cry. Either way, I put finger to key board and came up with this re-working of Shelley’s timeless classic:
I met a traveller from an ancient land
Who said a temple now a pile of stones
Stands in the desert on the sand
Around are strewn sun bleached bones
At which the vultures pick and plunder
The mighty unseen strike by drones
Tribesmen gaze in awe and wonder
At such a sight and whisper things
The hand that mocked and the heart that fed
His name is Obama, King of Kings
Look on his works yea humble and despair!
Nothing beside remains around the decay
Of that once holy place, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.