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.