You Light Up My Life
Recently, one of my writing cohorts from a Facebook group posted a blog entry about the creative influences in her life and it got me thinking about those who have inspired me.
I was fortunate as a wee writer, to have the support (even if it was occasionally – okay, frequently tinged with bewilderment) of my parents, neither of whom considered themselves particularly creative. I beg to differ on that point, but that is neither here nor there. When I spent hours and weeks in the basement hacking away on the trust ol’ Tandy 2000, they not only allowed it, but encouraged me to keep writing. My mother’s strength and fortitude regardless of the situation faced and my father’s struggles with his demons and with being the kind of father and man he wanted to be despite them – both of them have colored my work.
In her post, Laurie blogs about old friends from school with whom she shared her creative past and – thanks to Facebook – present. One of my girlfriends introduced me to the theatre (Les Misérables), which is a lingering but neglected love in my life. Another took Creative Writing electives with me in High School, but to my knowledge does not write anymore. In my memory, I always thought our class was exceedingly creative, but I have lost touch with (yes, even in the age of Facebook) most of them and I honestly do not know if any others are pursuing a creative path. Maybe its time to reconnect and find out…
(By the way – how many times did I use forms of creative in that past paragraph? Sheesh!)
Outside of school, however, I can name several people who really influenced my writing. Two ladies I worked with at a kitchen store in the local Outlet Mall in High School. They were both nearly ten years older than me, but we were all aspiring authors and discussed it frequently. They took me to my first writer’s conference and opened my eyes to a whole world of publishing that I had not known existed. My aunt, who I found to be a voracious (and unexpected) reader, introduced me to sub-genres and constantly encouraged me to complete my novels by volunteering to be a beta reader. My aforementioned Creative Writing class was taught by a man who was really passionate about poetry and literature and who got me excited to contribute a line or two to the every-growing tapestry of English-language literature.
And, probably most importantly, there was my cousin-slash-best friend. He and I used to exchange letters (yes, we’re that old) and one of our most beloved topics was whatever we were writing at the time. But it started before that, really. Summer vacations spent making up stories for our Barbie and Jem dolls as small children, then the BHG (don’t ask, tee-hee) short stories when we were older. He was the first person, other than myself, I knew to be working on a novel. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent discussing his characters and their story, listening to beautiful instrumental music that seemed custom-written to match his epic fantasy tale. He would send me small excerpts with his letters and I devoured them.
We were room mates my freshman year of college in farmhouse our Grandfather owned off-campus. It was epic for many reasons, but one of which was getting to share our love for wonderful stories live and in person! I started my beloved project “Madaya” back then on an ugly mod yellow & black couch (which he insists was green) in his living room. And in the years that followed, we blogged stories back and forth when living in different states, we collaborated on his amazing Christmas stories, and we act as sounding boards for each other.
The novel he was writing in High School remains unfinished. That bastard. I so need to know what happened to those characters!
Anyway – he remains of the most important influences in my life.
A blog post about creative influences would not be complete without a mention of my life partner. He and I have been writing together since the moment we met and I hope we never stop. Words are the blood flowing in the veins of our relationship; the worlds and characters we have created together continue to color my solo projects and of course, our collaborative efforts. He encourages me every single day to keep pursuing my dreams, to continue putting words on paper, to get those crazy people out of my head and into the pages of a book. And his insane brilliance! I cannot adequately describe the things that come out of his mind – but I am always inspired to think about my own work differently based on his ideas.
Well, this became a little more verbose than intended. Still, I wonder – who influences your creative pursuits? Friends from the past? Family in the present? Fellow writers, chance met via an online community?