Sometimes I do laundry, dishes or clean the cat box in order to delay the moment when I actually sit down to write. Everyone does this. Even though I don’t realize it at the time I engage in every mundane activity possible in order to avoid the thing which gives my life meaning. So before I begin a “Lost Girl” Netflix binge I’m going to take some time to mention the people I aspire to be like.
The first is George R.R. Martin. Very predictable I know, but I have been reading his books since I discovered them via a recommendation by a fantasy savvy Media Play employee. And that reference alone tells you how long Mr. Martin has captivated my imagination because I don’t even think Media Play’s exist anymore. His novels and my lack of anything else comparable to read at the time, were my reason for beginning an epic fantasy story. And his novels are the reason I will one day revisit that 300 page high fantasy story and finish it. I want to create complex characters that move through gorgeous landscapes that feel like characters themselves. I want people to laugh, cry and get angry when they read my work just like I did while reading his Song of Ice and Fire series. I want to create a world as amazing as his and I want this so bad my eyes water every time I hear the Game of Thrones theme music.
Neil Gaiman is an author I discovered a little later in life. The first book of his I read was Neverwhere and I can’t remember who turned me on to it. I ended up buying three copies because I mailed one to my mom and gave another to a friend as a present. After I devoured this novel I quickly set about finding every scrap of material Neil Gaiman had ever written. If I could pick one word to describe him it would be “versatile.” Or maybe “imaginative.” It’s a toss up between those two words. I have read his more famous novels, Neverwhere and American Gods but I’ve also read his YA novels like The Graveyard Book. I even have a copy of his graphic novels Batman, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader and Death. It doesn’t matter if he’s writing a novel or graphic novel dialogue Neil’s humor and gift for storytelling is instantly recognizable and I feel like I’m still struggling to find my voice. I want to be distinctive like Neil so that a reader can pick a copy of my book and within the first paragraph know who wrote it.
I used to read poetry because I used to be a young, tortured, (so I thought) teenager. During this time I discovered Sylvia Plath. I read other poets but she is the one that really sticks out and inspires me because she is so visceral. Her poems are deliciously dark and dripping with the blood from the veins she opened to write them. Once you’ve read it, the lines from “Daddy” or “Lady Lazarus” will haunt you forever. I also count The Bell Jar among my all time favorite novels. Although I’m not clinically depressed and I have no desire to take a bunch of sleeping pills or stick my head in an oven, I do have a desire to make an impact. The work of Sylvia Plath reminds me that in order to write something powerful I’ve got to rip out my heart and put it on display. Okay, that’s a little dramatic but it’s late and I feel like being dramatic.