Influences

As I mentioned previously in my post, “Untitled”, I did a poll in my Facebook group and one thing readers seemed to be interested in was a moment of inspiration in my life. It was one of those prompts that I mulled over in the back of my head, but I didn’t think of very much. Honestly, my fear of this becoming a diary has stopped me from sharing more personal entries, but after opening up about my friend’s father’s death (and how it impacted me), describing my story with adoption – by the way, November is National Adoption Month and if you feel like refreshing yourself on my personal experience with adoption, click here, my experiences with domestic violence, and more, I feel like I can talk about something as simple as writing influences.

I have always been a reader. I’ve been reading since I was three, and even before that, my mom was reading stories to me. When I was six, I was writing stories, which in the 90s made me a prodigy of sorts. These stories were nonsense, but I always had an overactive imagination. When I was baby-sitting in middle school, I’d make up stories for the kids I babysat for, and when I went to sleep-away camp, the girls in my cabin begged for my ghost stories.

As I grew older, I had teachers who encouraged my writing abilities – the mentor I had in tenth and eleventh grade who bought me books on the craft and spent hours with me people-watching and giving me advice on scenes I wrote. I even wrote a misguided attempt at a novel with a scene where a bunch of hipsters go to an art gallery where a bird is ripping up a van Gogh. Yeah, I shudder to think that notebook still exists somewhere – 53 pages of absolute drivel.

It was around this time that I started to develop my voice and discovered authors who influenced me: Jack Kerouac, J.D. Salinger, Diane diPrima, Jeanette Winterson, Sandra Cisneros, Chuck Palahniuk, a giant menagerie of influences. Later, I read works by Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, and I learned, despite my mother’s liking, not all poetry was sunshine and daydreams.

Around seventeen, I became friends with a poet/author who called herself “Aya”. She challenged me to be a better author and poet. She helped me to truly discover my voice as she helped me whittle my metaphors sharp and introduced me to bands like Meg & Dia, Paramore, and I began listening to music for the lyrics. I had a British boyfriend who introduced me to Travis, Oasis’ little-known gems, Snow Patrol. My English teacher gave me a mixed CD with Pearl Jam on it, and all of a sudden, through all the music I was listening to and books I was reading, I began to grow. I began to challenge myself to be a better writer and poet. I scribbled song lyrics on my faded jeans and lines from poems on my sneakers.

By the time twelfth grade rolled around, my poetic voice was nailed. I knew who I sounded like and I liked it. Sure, I was still growing and experimenting (as we must always do as authors), but I took a Creative Writing class and didn’t absolutely cringe at my works. I wonder why everything had to be a tragic love song (because it did — so many heartbreaking stories), but I was beginning to develop into an author and poet with a style.

I went through a variety of pseudonyms and dark spots, but I ended up here, working on a ghost-writing project, revising my first novel, and crating my second.

And maybe years from now, I will look back on this post and laugh at how immature or naive I was, but right now, this is the story of my influences and where I came from as an author.

Most likely, my tastes and influences will change as I age and grow; because even now, I think of Neil Gaiman, Simon van Booy, Janet Fitch, and Erin Morgenstern, and I know there are more authors than I can possibly name who have influenced my writing voice, but these are just a few.

2 thoughts on “Influences

  1. Fascinating! What a wide range of influences you have… I love Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton and also Carol Ann Duffy. I am not as well read as you, but also find music and lyrics very inspiring (especially grunge and post punk). Pearl Jam I like!

    Thank you for sharing!

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    1. It’s interesting when you think about your influences like this because it causes you to stop and reevaluate who you got what bit from. I’ve never read Carol Ann Duffy, but I’m researching her now. What bands inspire you? I was always more of a Pearl Jam fan than Nirvana, though some friends would hate me for admitting that.
      Lyrics are so much like poetry; my mentor taught me this, and when I was eighteen or so, one of my friends put a few of my poems to music. I consulted with him on the style of the songs, and it was a lot of fun.

      Edited to say: Just read some of Duffy’s poems, and wow, I love her style. The World’s Wife sounds amazing. I’m going to look into getting a copy.

      Like

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