Monday, May 17, 2010

Support, or lack thereof

"Who or what inspired you to become a writer?" is a pretty standard question for an author, but truthfully, the answer, for me, is kind of a big old blank.

I honestly can't remember when I knew that I wanted to create stories, professional or otherwise. My mother has always been an avid reader, and she read to me as early as I can recall. Likewise, I have memories of lying in bed at night, making up stories in my head long before I knew how to hold a pencil (or even a crayon, for that matter). The only inspiration that I can come up with, in this context, are the books I fell in love with as a child.

My favorites were many of the usual suspects: ELOISE, MADELINE, FRANCES (and her baby sister, eventually), but my true first love had to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. My obsession with the "Little House" books was such that I recruited my mother in sewing me a pioneer-style bonnet and spent afternoons recreating favorite scenes with my best friends. Yes, I watched the tv series faithfully, but I'm sure I re-read those books much more frequently than I ever tuned in.

Authors are sometimes asked whether they write with a particular "ideal reader" in mind, and the answer is that I personally do not. I think envisioning my audience so specifically would bring on an acute spell of writerly stage fright. And I'd never deign to suggest that I write with the intention of someday having the impact on a reader that Laura Ingalls Wilder had on me. Such presumption would almost feel like heresy to such a devout follower as me!
And meanwhile, my family and friends have always been phenomenally supportive of my writing.

But at the end of the day, it's all about having fallen in love with books. If I'd never read books that took me out of my own life and into a new character, an exotic location, or a unique situation, I don't know that I'd have gone on to indulge my own imagination daily quite the way I do when I'm writing.


Melissa Walker said...

Great post! At the risk of sounding self-involved, I think I often think of younger me reading, wanting to get lost in a world that feels realistic and a bit fantastical too.

I need to go re-find some LITTLE HOUSE books!

Jessica Leader said...

I too loved the LITTLE HOUSE books, although I did not reread until a few years ago and realized that Laura had some seriously feminist attitudes even past her tomboy years! She told Almanzo, "I'll tell the Minister that I promise to love you, but I won't obey." In 1893? Wow!

Micol Ostow said...

This makes it sound as though I didn't have any people in my life who specifically encouraged me, which isn't true at all. I just mean that it was falling in love with reading that made me want to create stories of my own. But I will add that my mom's passion for reading was a huge influence on me, and I hope that my children share it, too.

Nicole Burnham said...

I LOVED the Little House books. Laura Ingalls Wilder had a knack for putting the reader right into her shoes, listening to the wolves outside the door or walking through the woods with her Pa. I recommend the books all the time.