Nelson Algren once said something very interesting. I attended a writing class he was giving; he asked me to sit in with him. He was very kind to a rather mediocre writer, who imitated Hemingway so badly but so completely that after the class I said, “Why did you give all that time to that fellow? He really is no good.” And he said, “Yeah, I know he’s no good but, you know, sometimes these guys who are mediocre get better.” He said, “The thing is, I like it if they have an influence when they’re young and they write in the style of somebody else, because that speeds them up for learning how to write by themselves. Once they learn how, if they’re any good at all they step away from the person they’re imitating and begin to find their own style, but first they’ve got to be able to imitate somebody.” And, I’ve never forgotten that. It was an interesting comment about writing.