I used to fear the favorite author question. I don’t have a favorite. Sure I have authors that I like, but not one that I’d put on a pedestal, which is what I think the question is really asking. And every time I read a new book, my favored author could change! And do the askers want to know who I like best for giving me chills? For fluid dialogue? For vivid characters? That simple question carries too much weight.
Recently someone asked me a question that was much worse: who were my influences. I was struck cold. My mind went blank. I danced around the questions like I’ve never danced before, while the asker gave me the names of his influences without even thinking about it…or rather, he’d been thinking about it so much, they flew out of his mouth without hesitation.
I used to think my aversion to claiming influencers was I good thing. I’m not copying anyone. I’m not narrowly defining my style by someone else. I’m my own writer.
But now I’m starting to feel like a fraud. How can I have no influences? Maybe I’m not reading enough to have influences…and if that’s the case, I’m not reading enough to be considered a writer! Maybe if I had influences, I wouldn’t be adrift in Julia. I’d know exactly where she was going.
Many writing/publishing blogs talk about submitting queries to agents, how to pick those agents and how to sweet talk *ahem* , how to tell them why you think they’d be perfect to represent you. Basically, all the advice boils down to read in your genre, find authors you write like and pitch to their agents.
If I don’t have any influences, how am I going to find out who I write like? And how am I ever going to figure out which agents to query?
Despite my Brain Goes Boing post, I’m not close to querying an agent. But my fear is more than that.
I do read. I have been influenced by authors, but I can’t tell you who. I’m not saying I burst forth from a writing void and suddenly began writing masterpieces with no help or influence. I’m not that egotistical and I certainly don’t want to come across that way. I also work hard at writing and don’t want to come across as a naif who just picked up a pen because, gee, everyone can write a novel, it’s so easy and will make me a million…and no I’ve never read a book in my life…is that a problem?
When I was younger, I read a lot of fantasy and wrote a lot of fantasy. I know the books I read back then influenced me, but once I moved away from magic and wizards, my writing changed and I can’t think of any one book or author who did that.
Does anyone else dread those questions? If you don’t, do you just innately know who influenced you, or did it take a lot of time and analysis?