22 August 1857
Be original. Don't filch whole sentences from other writers, without honest quotation marks. Don't treat us to Dickens and water—or Thackeray and water—or Bronte and water—or any other writer and water. Be yourself, or be nothing. (I have known the terms synonymous!) Always remember, that in this reading age and community, an imitation is sure to be seen through; and that in attempting servilely to copy the style of another, you not only fail of gaining his style, but you lose every chance of individuality for your own. If you have nothing to say, don't say it; if you have, for patience' sake, use your own words to do it in, though they may be rough as a nutmeg-grater. Second-hand literary goods are a drug in the market.
Fanny Fern, "To Writers," The New-York Ledger (22 August 1857): 4, column 3
To cite this project:
Fanny Fern, "To Writers," Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger, Ed. Kevin McMullen (2023) http://fannyfern.org.
Contributors to the digital file:
Jordan Harper and Kevin McMullen