Good writers copy. Great writers steal. Somebody famous said that, just as somebody famous said this. I read something that made me laugh out loud. It’s in public domain, so I can share it. This came from a preface of Hilaire Belloc from “The Path to Rome“.
Now this is a pusillanimity of theirs (the book writers) that they
think style power, and yet never say as much in their Prefaces. Come,
let me do so … Where are you? Let me marshal you, my regiments of
Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army! See them how they stand in rank ready for assault, the jolly, swaggering
First come the Neologisms, that are afraid of no man; fresh, young,
hearty, and for the most part very long-limbed, though some few short and strong. There also are the Misprints to confuse the enemy at his onrush. Then see upon the flank a company of picked Ambiguities
covering what shall be a feint by the squadron of Anachronisms led by
old Anachronos himself; a terrible chap with nigglers and a great
murderer of fools.
But here see more deeply massed the ten thousand Egotisms shining in their armour and roaring for battle. They care for no one. They
stormed Convention yesterday and looted the cellar of Good-Manners,
who died of fear without a wound; so they drank his wine and are
to-day as strong as lions and as careless (saving only their Captain,
Monologue, who is lantern-jawed).
Here are the Aposiopaesian Auxiliaries, and Dithyramb that killed
Punctuation in open fight; Parenthesis the giant and champion of the
host, and Anacoluthon that never learned to read or write but is very
handy with his sword; and Metathesis and Hendiadys, two Greeks. And last come the noble Gallicisms prancing about on their light horses: cavalry so sudden that the enemy sicken at the mere sight of them and are overcome without a blow. Come then my hearties, my lads, my indefatigable repetitions, seize you each his own trumpet that hangs at his side and blow the charge; we shall soon drive them all before us headlong, howling down together to the Picrocholian Sea.
So! That was an interlude. Forget the clamour.