Last month alone, I heard three authors described as the next “Tolkien.” I’m starting to think that we’ve forgotten what that even means because the only thing these authors have in common is that they write fantasy.
What’s more is that countless writers – including myself at one point – have said that they want to be the next Rowling. Or C.S. Lewis. Or ___.
The idea is that we’re following in a master’s footsteps, ready to take it a step further by expounding on the foundation the greats left us. That’s nice and all, but by becoming the next [insert author’s name here], you lose a bit of who you are in the effort.
I admire Tolkien above all other writers and The Lord of the Ring books combined are about the greatest epic fantasy story ever written, but I think it should be every writer’s goal to go beyond walking in his shadow. He essentially created modern fantasy, giving the genre its divine spark. Instead of trying to recreate that, we as writers should strive to help it evolve and survive an increasingly technological world.
Personally, I don’t want to be the next Tolkien…I want to be entirely different and respected in my own right.