Influence isn’t just a matter of copying someone or learning his or her tricks. You get influenced by writers whose work gives you hints about your own abilities and inclinations. Being influenced is largely a process of self-discovery. What you have to do is put all your influences into the blender and arrive at your own style and vision. That’s the way it happens in music–you put a sitar in a rock song and your get a new sound. . . . Hybrid vigor. It operates in art, too. The idea that a writer is a born genius, endowed with blazing originality, is mostly a myth, I think. You have to work at your originality. You create it; it doesn’t create you.

–Jeffery Eugenides

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