The Five Largest Influences on My Writing

As a child, I read intensely. I would read 300 pages in an evening while in grade school and make daily trips to the school’s library if allowed, otherwise I would check out my maximum book limit. So, here are the books, travels, and experiences that have shaped my writing.

5. My 2 Week Trip to Ireland

I was twelve when my aunt called Mom, asking if anyone would like to go to Ireland to celebrate my cousin’s graduation from Vet School. Cousin Tracey was a grad exchange student and had been going to a vet school in Ireland for a few years, since she had a hard time getting in to a vet school stateside. I remember most the long airplane flight, the historic hotel we stayed at for a few nights in Dublin that had the most awesome breakfast, how I became addicted to crepes, the castle turned into a B and B that we stayed at in the “country”,  the shock of not only going into Pubs but having the waiters serve me Mom’s beer, innumerable foods and beds so massive they’d eat you, and finally breaking down and crying in a park in Dublin because no matter where we went, people were everywhere. At that moment, I wanted them to stop staring and vacate the entire park. Didn’t happen. I was also a little lonely because there were no other kids, just piles and piles of adults–and I mean, there were NO kids. They were in school. Oh, yes, I recall many museums, too, with preserved Viking longboats and reconstructed Viking villages, and a 6’5″ bog man with a sword over 4′ tall that weighed 45 pounds. Totally want to go back to that Viking museum again, with a camera and notebook… So, the influence on my writing? The living history.

4. Mairelon the Magician  and The Magician’s Ward (Patricia C Wrede)

I don’t know what to say about these two fantastic books. I loved the characters, I loved the side characters, I loved the winding plot, I loved the love story. I’ve heard some people accuse it of not settling nicely into a set category–oh, but it does, just not a common literary category. It’s a farce. If you don’t know what a farce is, keep your eyes open for one at your local college theatre. It’s comedy, it’s unique characters, it’s all plot, it’s characters all after the same thing and determined to be the only ones who get it. The Pink Panther (the oldies) is a decent mainstream example of a farce. How did this one influence my writing? The characters, oh my goodness, the characters are to die for.

3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (J. R. R. Tolkien) Classic good vs evil at its best way before Orlando Bloom slid down a staircase whilst shooting arrows. There’s so much symbolism going on here, so much culture. It did get a tad dry, though, like the 70 pages of the Council of Elrond, or the 40 pages of Bilbo’s song…but then again, what other book could pull that off? Let me be honest: my die-hard LOTR fan girl told me how many pages to skip on both counts, and I was more than happy to oblige. Influence on my writing? The cultural interactions, the subtle conflicts between different people as they work to the same goal.

2. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

Though I have got to say, the entire Narnia series is superb and I read and reread these books so many times…I never wanted those kids to go back to reality. I love the Lion, oh how I love the lion. I missed him in the later books when he didn’t show up so much anymore. I love the good vs evil, the role models, and how in the end the children actually displayed that they’d learned their lessons. Also, totally cool for me as a kid, was that the adults did not tell the children that they were “too young” or that they shouldn’t be involved. Instead, the adults trained them. …just so much to wow these books about. Influences on my writing? Got me started on Christian writing and themes.

1. Silver Nickel Cattle

This last bit isn’t a book and it isn’t a place. It is when I experienced some of my greatest accomplishments and most crushing defeats–and it all had to do with circumstances far beyond anyone’s control. Call it fate, or call it God, I had responsibilities to uphold and once I got a taste, I plunged into my herd fully. I can recall a handful of calving experiences that did not go well at all, including a “freak” that grew its organs outside it’s fur and required the vet and a collapsible saw to remove the calf from the womb. I’ve seen cows reject their newborns and leave it to us to bottle feed or die. I’ve seen one  cow have a stillborn calf, Dad bury the calf, and for two weeks that cow paced the fence line, calling for her baby and checking other cow’s calves for her scent. It was very tragic and I believe I talked Dad into keeping her, despite the loss we’d take from having an unproductive cow eating good feed for a full year. That said, I’ve seen in the same day twins being born and momma cow loving them both, calves playing and butting heads, and I loved stroking the brand-new baby fur the day they were born. Right before we pierced their ears with ear tags and made them cry out, but hey. They get over it fast.

I think that the time when I had SN was the most influential aspect of my life. It shaped how I viewed life, how I came to accept it. On any given day at any given time, I could have the most horrific experience chased by the most beautiful. So many nights, I sat up wondering why. I must have found an answer. I never slept until I did. But I could not put those answers in a few short words–they sunk somewhere deep inside me and rested. Then one day, when I was struggling with my first major, my boyfriend took me to his church and the pastor told us to ask our questions to God. So, I decided, fine. I will. And I did. And I was told to write. Write what? Just write. Just write and the answers will come.

I changed my major to Professional Writing and now I’m polishing up my first novel, and it is every bit a reflection of my life so far.


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