These days, writing is on my mind a lot. Maybe it's because I decided this year would be the one where I actually finish writing a book. Maybe it's because I've actually started writing and working toward that goal.
Whatever the reason, I like it.
I spent the evening yesterday--and well into this morning--visiting Jenna, and one of the topics that came up was about the books that helped us define our writing style. Not just the genres we write, but the overall voice and flow of our stories.
For Jenna, JK Rowling's Harry Potter and Suzanne Collins' Gregor the Overlander series were integral to the development of her style. She still holds a great love for those series, and if you asked her would happily gush over them even now, despite having not read them for a while.
In direct contrast, I can no longer say that I love the stories that define my voice.
As a child, I hated reading. I got bored easily. Now, I can say that I was never given a chance to choose stories for myself, to decide what I found interesting. Books were thrust at me and I was to accept them one way or another. So I simply didn't read.
Until my mother began reading Elfquest to me every night before bed. Age nine and I fell in love with this series of graphic novels; the world building, the art, the characters, everything about it.
I can definitively say that Elfquest made me want to write. It made me want to read.
But I can't say it helped me pin down my style. It simply inspired me to find it.
Ultimately, Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series is what defined my style. I still see the evidence in everything I write. I won't go in-depth on why I've fallen out of love with that series. The list is long and somewhat depressing. But I accept that I will always owe something to LKH, though. If she hadn't written those books, it would've been several more years before I found my own style. (I wish I could think of a word that fit better than "style" because I've used it so many times in this post, it's losing all meaning for me.)
My style is not your style, and that's a good thing. No one should mimic exactly what another does. It's only through experimenting with different methods that you find one that fits for you. Anyone who reads my work can see the influence of LKH--also of Karen Marie Moning, Patricia Briggs, even of Elfquest. But no one can say it is not distinctly my own voice, my own flair with words, in every piece of my work.
In short, my thoughts are this:
Don't forget who inspired you. Don't forget the roots of your voice. Appreciate it. It may inspire you again.