Author Life: Influences from Every Corner

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It’s hard, if not impossible, to delve into the life of an author without touching on the thing that sets them off.  You have your imagination or a real life tale to tell, but something triggers your desire to write a book.  Maybe you had a dream about being at a signing or read a book that made you think you could do it too.  Some people are told that they should be a writer and it makes sense to them.  And this is only for what makes you want to a writer.  Look at what can stir a story in your mind and the list can go on forever.

Here’s one thing that I’ve noticed from my travels . . . Yes, I leave the chair from time to time because the fridge isn’t in reach.  Many people talk about wanting to write a book and never getting up the courage.  You’ve probably heard ‘I always wanted to write a book, but . . .’ in response to declaring your authorhood.  Well, these people could be on the verge of being influenced.  More than likely, they’re not going to go anywhere.  No offense to them on that, but it is the truth.  It’s when a person goes from ‘wanting’ to ‘doing’ that influence has begun.  Again, the list goes on and on for what can set this desire off.

The influential spark is only the beginning for most authors.  I say most because I’ve met a few who had that spark and then set out to write a story with no plan whatsoever.  I’m not even talking the pantser style.  Full no pants, no idea style that typically ends in a creature that should be taken behind the woodshed and shot.  Best example I have here is someone who wanted to write an action book because he loved action movies.  Flashback on the second back, list of characters was a list of movie stars, and I’m pretty sure ninja was written on the page at least 5 times.  Another example is someone who rewrote ‘Ender’s Game’, so you get your blatant plagiarists here too.

So, what else needs to happen before the influential spark?  You need the influential fire that contains a story that you know you must tell.  It isn’t enough to want to write because without a story, you have nothing.  This can stem from a game, a show, a movie, a life event, a dream, and so many other things.  This is the fire that will carry you from beginning to end because you will need to retain your love of the story.  It doesn’t even stop with the first influence too.  Other ideas and events can feed into the story, which is easier for fiction than non-fiction.  Say you’re writing a ‘Pirate Adventure’ and then you have the idea to include a little Steampunk because you read a new book.  That’s a new influence on your work and maybe even your style.  Perhaps you saw a cat hunting a bird in the backyard and it gives you an idea for a scene where the heroes are being stalked by a lion.  This is why many authors hone their awareness because you never know what you’ll see when (if?) you leave the house.

Using myself as an example, I always wanted to write a book until I read ‘Books of Lost Swords’ by Fred Saberhagen.  Then it changed to me knowing I will write a book.  That was step one.  After that, I let my love of Dungeons & Dragons, video games, cartoons, and movies guide me.  This is kind of how Windemere came about because I would see an archetype or be inspired by something that made me want do something in my own world.  I started watching anime where demons weren’t always evil, which stirred the evolution of Windemere demons.  I used to read comic books, so I gravitated toward action scenes.  Even a big thought like ‘the world is getting dark and pessimistic’ can be influential and drive me toward noble heroes with happy-ish endings.  The truth is that I have no idea what is going to influence me as I go along.

So, what are your influences?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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38 Responses to Author Life: Influences from Every Corner

  1. Such a true piece! You’ve said some things that I know a lot of people don’t want to hear – but it’s the truth. Good luck with everything!

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  2. K. A. Brace says:

    Great post Charles. I think readers will and are enjoying these forays you take into writing and at times how you approach it. Writing my own journal entries has been successful in that regard but more I find they do a great deal for me in help explain myself and what I do to me. I have never been able to keep a journal because I always felt foolish writing to myself. But writing posts, to an audience, even if they don’t read it, is very rewarding. Hope you find it the same. Best>KB

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    • It’s certainly fun and helps me get my ideas written down. One of the ‘exciting’ parts is that I never know what will get a big reaction and what will be ignored, so it’s almost like I have nothing to lose by posting whatever comes to my mind.

      It does appear that the journal/weekly goal stuff gets more attention than other topics.

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  3. sknicholls says:

    I have known so many bloggers whose writing wows me! I would love to see the novels they could put out. My first was an accident, and finding the inspiration to produce another one has been a challenge.

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  4. I’m influenced by pretty much everything. Most often it’s tv, movies, books, etc., but then there’s artwork, people I meet in real life, world events, listening to my brother ramble on about whatever new computer game he’s playing …

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  5. Harliqueen says:

    It’s all about finding that push to get you motivated and really do what you dream of 🙂

    Great post! Nice to find out what got you started on this path 😀

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  6. twixie13 says:

    Ah, influences…mine tend to include books, anime, true crime shows, Disney movies, slasher films…there’s more there, as well, I’m sure. But those are the main things that come readily to mind.

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  7. I was driving along a road when I saw a load of black birds coming together on the hard shoulder. Pointing them out to my passenger, I commented: “Can you see the ravens gathering?” The phrase leapt out at me and I said almost immediately: “That’d make a good title for a book.” And it did. Oddly enough, the story didn’t take long to piece together. The title led the way.

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  8. I can be influenced at any time by any thing, by what I see, what I hear, what I read. With poetry, everything is an influence whether one knows it or not.

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  9. I find an influence every day just living. It amazes me how stories pop into my head. I think more pop than make it out, but hey glad I have a choice.

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  10. Bastet says:

    Reblogged this on Bastet and Sekhmet's Library and commented:
    An interesting reflextion what might be behind the scenes of the writer … have a look, it might be useful to answer that last question: “So, what are your influences?”

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  11. Oloriel says:

    The biggest influence for me has always been and I think forever will be, a fellow Serbian writer. I bought his book, not knowing anything and it became one of my alltime favourite fantasies which I keep reading again almost every year. I kept thinking “This book is amazing, this is the fantasy I want, this is the fantasy I would write! But who the hell am I, it will never work, I am a stupid Serb in stupid Serbia where everyone ahtes on English writing!”. Then I saw the author is also Serbian. And under thirty. And faced the same discouragement that I did. It was the fire, the spark, the wood – everything for me and I will be forever gratefull to him for being that for me, by simply writing his story.

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    • That’s a great inspiration. Didn’t know Serbia hated English writing, so it sounds like a big obstacle. Good luck.

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      • Oloriel says:

        They cant publish something on a language they don’t understand, but they also turn it into “You are speaking the language of the ocupator!” thing, in schools, universities etc, all the places which are your only options to help you with publishing your writing when you are between 10 to 30, aprox.

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      • Wow. I tend to forget how things like that are happening. Even around here.

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      • Oloriel says:

        This is where the internet and self-puglishing help a great deal. Still, you are forever saddened by the fact your countryman meet you with these words, and when its not that, its the scam publisher and yadda yadda.
        What I want to say is, one of the biggest influence for everyone will always be another person doing the thing we dream of doing or desire it.
        Just looka t how many ppl do bad stuff because they see other ppl do bad stuff and so on into infinity. This is where “Just start, because you matter” really is important with writing – because instead of a crappy reality show, you will be someone’s influence.

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      • Good point on the bad stuff. We tend to be a very ‘monkey see, monkey do’ species when you boil things do. Be best if people only did that with the positive inspirations.

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      • Oloriel says:

        If not, at least direct the peoples flaws of character towards them doing something good. Because, many stories start with:”This is such a shit book, I bet I could write ten times better than that!” – wether people like to admit it or not! But hey, at least they are writing, instead of stabbing people on the street, even though you had to manipulate their own envy into doing so.

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      • True. I do know a lot of people who are trying to work off the ‘I can do better’ mentality. The strange thing there is that they rarely get out of the editing stage or even the first draft. They become obsessed with making things perfect and flawless, so it’s never ready for publishing.

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      • Oloriel says:

        Because we don’t nurture them further. A baby’s first steps usualy end up with falling down and scrapping their knees, and if someone is not there to pick them up and cheer them on further, they might take time to attempt it again. metaphoricaly speaking, if a kid is like my son, then the analogy completely fails 😛 You get what I mean thought.
        Instead, we choose to nurture the illusion of talent by making people compare themselves and compete.

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      • Not sure I follow in the context of what I was talking about. I was mentioning authors who refuse to leave the ‘safety’ of pre-publishing and never let their stories take that first step. Then again, I haven’t been awake for long and I’m still throwing off the end of the stomach flu, so I could just be easily confused.

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      • Oloriel says:

        I have the regular flu, so, no worries, I have no idea if I am coherent! 🙂
        Thats what I mean, we dont work to encourage them, because many are jealous, because truth be told, even after releasing dozen of books, a writer is still insecure. When its time for lets say,you and me to work together, influence one another, I can steer you wrong or just not be there for you at all and turn it into a competition – as oppossed to a branch of culture that is growing only with our power to direct it (into something good).
        In my baby steps story, if you were the baby and you tried to walk for the first time and you fell, I would not pick you up, but instead say “Ah, loser, I knew how to walk perfect by your age and also climb a tree and make apple pie!”. Maybe not in this tone or exact words, but that is the emotion which often circulates the writer communities. It is one of the reasons why many are so affraid to ask honest critique or query their novel.

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      • I get it. I was thinking more about motivation. Inspired to reach the same level as a favorite author seems to push into publishing. Doing it to prove you’re better than another author runs a high risk of stalling. You get this fear that you’re not good enough to surpass the established author, so you keep finding flaws in your work. It ends up repeatedly being not good enough.

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  12. When people tell me, “I always wanted to…” I tell them they should. They don’t have to show anyone or try to sell it, they should just do it to have fun.

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