Since I was small, I’ve wanted to be a writer. That’s always been the dream. In fact, recently, while cleaning out my closet, I found a few of my first “books”. They were stories written on notebook paper accompanied by illustrations drawn with crayons. As I got older, I got more sophisticated tools of the trade. My grandma gave me my first laptop: a big clunker from the early 2000’s that she had gotten from the school where she taught Computer Science. Now, I scribble away in notebooks and transfer my brainstorming mess to an equally messy Google Drive. While my goals have changed many times over the years, one has always remained a constant: I’ve wanted to write things that impact others.
I have had such a wide range of influences over the years. My mom was very encouraging of my reading habits. Early memories of Arthur, Berenstain Bears, and countless other picture books are still stuck in my head. I quickly caught on to the chapter book craze, taking out at least ten new books every time I visited the library. I’m convinced that about 70% of my upper body strength came from my reading addiction; carrying a huge stack can be tough when you’re 3’0” tall (still can be difficult when you’re 5’0”).
As I’ve grown up, I’ve found several writers that have really shaped my reading tastes and have inspired my own writings. C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series will forever be one of my favorites, followed closely by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The magical stories easily carry you off and make you forget about the rest of the world. On the opposite side of the spectrum, John Green’s Turtles All The Way Down and Stephen Emond’s Wintertown are two contemporary pieces that deal with real life issues in humorous ways. While both novels have heavy subjects in them, the reader is still able to relate to the characters, which is extremely important. As someone who struggles with mental health, these are two books I have come back to many times for a reminder that I am not alone.
The real influence for me though seems to be in adventure stories, particularly the ones that deal with extraordinary powers and/or circumstances. Books like Hunger Games, Rot and Ruin, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are so much fun to read because you feel as though you are part of the action yourself. Then there’s film and television writers like George Lucas (Star Wars) and Alex Hirsh (Gravity Falls). Finally, I can’t forget to mention comic books and graphic novels. As they rise in popularity, the more detailed and deep the stories get in this visual form of literature. Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel Comics, is one of my writing idols. His dynamic and relatable characters have been some of my favorites for years. A good writer is needs to be able to create characters that will be loved for years, not just for a phase of time. Some books, movies, and shows are popular for a little while, but if the characters aren’t truly dynamic and grab onto the audience, the audience will move onto something new, forgetting them almost entirely. Characters from Stan Lee’s books like Captain America, Spider-Man and Iron Man have stood the test of time and are still as popular, if not more so, as when they first got published.
As I grow older and surround myself with other creators, my new inspiration has come from my friends. I always get super hyped when my buddy Nathan sends me new drafts of his scripts. I’ve had the pleasure of acting in two of my pal Andy’s screenplays which provided great challenges to me as an actress due to their complexity. Sweet Ben has made me laugh, cry and laugh so hard that I’ve cried while reading his plays. Dozens of other peers have inspired me over the years. It’s astounding to see how my friends have become my writing influencers. I am grateful that I have people around me that inspire me to continue to better my craft and that have supported my ideas as I unscramble them from my head. Whatever you want to be good, whether it’s dancing, video gaming, cooking, running, singing, fishing or bowling, find people to share in the journey of learning. Life is so much better when you surround yourself with people who inspire you to be the best at what you love.
Until Next Time,