Tag Archives: Reading

Author Influences

A few weeks ago, a writing friend asked who my author influences are, and more specifically which authors most influenced writing The Field.  It made me realize I have been influenced by a lot of authors in my lifetime, not just as a reader, but as a writer as well.

My dad introduced me to authors like J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, George McDonald, Brian Jacques, and David and Karen Mains.  My mom introduced me to authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Charles Dickens.  My oldest sister introduced me to John Bunyan, Michael Bond (Paddington Bear), and Beverly Cleary (Ramona).  Somewhere in there J. K. Rowling and Phillip Pullman were also introduced, and I independently discovered Margaret and H. A. Rey, Peggy Parish, Sarah Dessen, Stephen King, (and I’m going to make a BIG jump here) Ayn Rand, Mary Shelley, Rainer Maria Rilke, Joyce Carol Oates and Doris Lessing.

Not to brag or anything, but I’m pretty well-read and broadly-influenced.  Whether I like it or not, who I read influences what and how I write.

I have always aspired to be like the authors my mom introduced me to.  In the tradition of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, and Jane Austen, I’ve been writing stories about sisters from the get-go.  I love exploring the dynamic of sisterhood, and it’s something the aforementioned authors do really well.  I also love (love, love, love) Charles Dickens’ take on humanity and his stellar character development, and I’ve always desired to emulate that in my own work.

Much as I enjoy the authors my dad brought into my life, it has never been my goal to create new worlds in my writing.  And I certainly never intended to be a writer who used another world for the purpose of allegory or parallels to our own world.  And yet, The Field is an allegory that takes place in a different world.  Being honest, my writing going forward will be taking a similar vein.

Now, I still don’t have the subtlety of C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia or the comprehensive nature of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, and I wouldn’t want you to think that I do.  That’s the beauty of where I am as a writer, though, right?  I’m just starting out; I have a lifetime (however long that may be) to develop my craft through many different stories and books.

If I had to choose an author that most closely and clearly influenced The Field, it would be David and Karen Mains in their Tales of the Kingdom and Tales of the Resistance.  I hadn’t read these books in years until this week, hadn’t even thought of them until this question came up, but I correctly remembered them being deeply allegorical.  They are more marketed to children, where The Field is intended for a more mature audience, and the two have different characters and storylines, but I think the overall purpose and message are very similar.

Thing is, allegory is not everyone’s cup of tea, just as not everyone likes Dickens or poetry or science fiction.  I think that’s okay, but that’s also why I don’t intend to market The Field too terribly specifically, but rather to minds that can see parallels in the characters and conversations to real-life philosophies and occurrences.  For that reason, The Field will never be wildly popular, like Harry Potter, Narnia, or The Lord of the Rings.  Even if only a handful of people like it, it will have been well worth my while to write it.

I look at Tales of the Kingdom and Tales of the Resistance.  I’m betting most people who regularly read my blog have never even heard of them or if they have, they might only vaguely remember them.  Me, I remember them vividly from having read them many years ago.  They got under my skin and impacted me.  Along with a colorful edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress, these stories are what got me interested in allegory.  Ultimately, that interest is what prompted me to write The Field.  And this is about what I expect for The Field – niche interest.

Now don’t get me wrong, someday I hope to be an author who writes an allegory so compelling even people who hate allegory won’t be able to put it down, but as Aragorn says (in the movie), “This is not that day.”  I’m just starting to flex my fiction writing muscle: I expect it to strengthen, book by book.  I know that a few years down the road I’m going to have written bigger and better things than The Field, but I will always be glad I wrote it and had the courage to put it “out there” at all.

That’s how the authors I’ve read have influenced me! 🙂

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Protecting Myself: Cynicism or Stewardship?

I’m having a beautiful week in which I’m struggling deeply.

You see, throughout the past year, God has been teaching me to take care of myself.  He’s been teaching me that I am a person of immense value, that He has given me gifts and talents that He expects me to use and grow in for His glory. He has been showing me that what I do to glorify Him is not always visible to others OR for the benefit of others; in fact, this past year, most of what I’ve been up to hasn’t been seen by anybody. It’s on display to Him and it is done for Him. I exist for Him, so neglecting myself, neglecting my talents is NOT glorifying to Him.

Somewhere during the past year, I have become a fierce protector of my time, gifts and talents, energy, and resources. (Full disclosure: I have family and friends who will tell you I’m not fiercely protecting anything, that I’ve just gotten better at protecting these things. But I feel fierce, so…) Most of the time, I’m so thankful that God provided in such a way as to give me time to focus on my writing and producing, that I have time to be present for friends, and that I have freedom to pursue these things without being bogged down by this pressure to perform. Other times, like this week, this accusatory voice in my head tells me I’m being self-centered and cynical.

After all, I’m really selective about the church ministries I take on and there have been times when I’ve stepped away from involvement in ministry altogether, so I have the time to recharge my relationship with God and to work on things I enjoy. I feel cynical establishing boundaries in ministry, like if I don’t look out for myself, people will walk all over me. I feel bad doing things I enjoy when they aren’t church and ministry specific.

But.

God is a good Father. He gives us good things to enjoy. Writing, reading, producing are all things He has given me to enjoy. I’ve been blessed for a season to be able to use these gifts in tandem with my spiritual gifts for the benefit of the church, but these gifts are not exclusively for the church. They are to bring my Father glory and delight, and I believe on some level, they are intended to bring me joy as well.

So I’m not being selfish, even though the church is not likely to benefit much (that I can tell) from this upcoming season in my life. I’m just trying to honor God and enjoy the life He has given me; whether that benefits the church or doesn’t is in HIS hands.I love the church dearly, but my life does not exist for the church. Of course, I’ll still be involved, but just as with this past year, I’m going to be selective about what I take on and cut-throat about what I let go of.

I don’t set up boundaries to be cynical and defend myself from people who would walk all over me. I do it to protect the good things God has given me. Things I don’t want to waste or destroy. I think that’s called stewardship.

 

 

 

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In Failure or Success

Teach me Your way!

It’s been two years since I graduated with my Bachelor’s today. Sometimes, I feel like my life is not coming together. I don’t really have a career, still live with my parents,… If I think too long about it, I can start feeling like a failure. I have to remind myself that during this time of being between full-time work, I am getting to do things I haven’t been able to do in years. Things like writing and making serious progress in the novel I haven’t touched for three years (because I was in school and working, and then working and working). Things like reading for fun, and not for school or analysis. Things like producing video. I still want a full-time job, and am earnestly seeking one, but I’m also trying to enjoy this interim.

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Writing Problem #231,546

Writing a funeral scene with critical information in it for one revision, keeping the character alive in the next revision, eliminating the need for a funeral, but also no way to relay the critical information.

Rats.

I think I need to stop revising and just keep writing.

Or else I’m going to give myself writer’s block like nobody’s business.

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