I recently came across Author Robert J. Lennon’s blog and I had a hate-turned-to-love relationship with what he said. In his post he answered the frequently asked question, “What are your influences?” You really should read the full article, but in a nutshell it’s his opinion that writers should not be the biggest influence for other writers. At first I was skeptical but as I kept reading I felt encouraged and hopeful about my own writing–because it is my own.
“The danger of immersing oneself, completely, in literate culture, at the expense of other forms of influence, is that all your referents end up coming from other people’s imaginations. This is bad. It makes us mannered, cultured, when in fact what we need is to be weird and rough around the edges.”
I can respect that. In fact, I can relate to that. Obviously this blog is proof that I read a lot. But if I really think about it, I don’t read to learn how to imitate or sound similar to another writer; I read because I love that someone else has had a unique experiences in their own life–or in the life of their characters–that I will never have, and that inspires me to write about the things that only I know exist.
So in response to the question above, “What are your influences?” I would have to agree with Robert. I’ve undoubtedly been influenced by books, but my biggest influences have been beanie babies, Parcheesi, a Toyota Previa van, being painfully shy in elementary school and writing notes to myself on the bus, the way my horse came when I called his name, making up dances to NSYNC and being horrible at them, watching the trade towers fall and noticing bodies in the air, the way my dad eats his food in sections, how my mom has dropped every book she ever read in the tub, and the voice of my husband telling me I can do anything.
What are your influences?