I’ve seen a lot of people telling writers to build a platform. I disagree. What they should be building is a personality.
Writing experts drone on about an author’s voice. They’re not wrong. But your voice is just a means to express your personality.
Misled by writers of genius like T.S. Eliot and Flaubert, some authorities stress revision. They force you to focus on smoothness of style. They want you to rewrite everything until your personality completely disappears.
That’s okay if you have been writing 1,000 words a day every day for years and want to hone your technique. But first you have to discover what is in you. You have to learn how to be yourself, to cast off artifice and be completely natural.
That is very hard.
If you’re not sure what a personality looks like when it’s poured into a novel, you could read Tom Jones. Even if it doesn’t make you a better writer, it will make you a better person.
Moral education should always be like this: ribald, riotous and fun. It’s huge but it’s masterly, it hits all the right spots, it teases, stimulates and satisfies. After you’ve reached the climax you’ll want it all over again.
In case you hadn’t guessed, I love it. Henry Fielding wasn’t handsome but he had a big personality. This book is his platform and when you’ve finished reading it, it makes a good yoga brick.