Today, I was asked: “What author—living or deceased—inspires you to keep writing?” I went with my gut, giving myself a maximum of 10 seconds to come up with a list, and gave a response that surprised me somewhat. Some authors that came to mind weren’t those I was expecting, as so many have influenced my writing, even my thinking. But I digress. After ten seconds, I put in my comment and thought this was a good subject to share with you today, I hope you guys concur.
The first name that came to my mind was John Steinbeck. This one didn’t surprise me, he’s been a major influence on my writing, not as much because of the subject matter, but rather his ability to carry the reader on a journey that encompasses beautiful imagery with complex emotions. Each novel was, for me, an occasion to meet new friends, visit a world that existed not long ago, and see it through the eyes of those who lived it.
Then my mind pushed Eckhart Tolle to the front, which surprised me. Once I posted my response, I thought about it for a minute and realized that his book, The Power of Now, had a profound influence on my life. I read it in my late twenties, and when I think back, his message resonated with me to the point that I integrated his notions into my subconscious and have applied the basic rule of living in the now ever since.
The next name that popped up was Stephen King. No surprise there, he is the reason I began to read, and later began to write. Up until the age of fourteen, I had read nothing more than Dr. Seuss. On one fateful Christmas Eve, my mother gave me a Stephen King book. It was Carrie, and that book changed my life. I finished it in two days and remember asking my mother to get more books from this strange author. His words resonated with me not because of the tension he masterfully manipulated (which is very cool), but because of his capacity to reveal the soul of the characters that populated his books. I would go as far as saying that without Stephen King, I wouldn’t be here writing this today.
Paul Coelho came next, and I almost fell off my chair. Why would this name come up, when I only read two of his books, one of which I don’t even remember the title? The other book was the Alchemist. Surely an important book for the young mind I was when I read it, but as the years passed, so many other authors crossed my path that it got shelved far in the back of my mind and almost forgotten. After thinking about it for a moment, I realized I follow him a lot on social media and have developed a profound respect for this man, who has stayed true to himself all through the years. His success is an encouragement for me to stay true to my message, my inspirations.
Plume Latraverse was next, and again, why? For those who don’t know him, he is a Montreal born songwriter. Why would a songwriter pop into my mind when thinking of people who have inspired me to write? The answer is so simple, it made me laugh. He is a poet. His writing has the reputation of being vulgar, unseemly, especially in the early years of his writing. But when you listen with intent, a profound and powerful poetry reveals itself. He described everyday life in ways that would (and still) bring tears to my eyes. Over the years, his poetry evolved, but never did he forget about his main subject, the silent and forgotten ones of society.
Finally, my one true muse, Alexandre Dumas. He sits side-by-side with Stephen King at the top of my personal hall of fame. Where King gave me the desire to read more, Alexandre Dumas showed me the beauty of words in all their glory. His books are novels but read like poetry. His dialogues, every single one, are masterful and eloquent. The pictures he paints with his words are pieces of art you look at for hours, taking in every detail with glee because each one of the words that populate his book are there for a reason and have an impact on the flow.
Thank you for indulging me today. I wanted to share this with you, and encourage you to meditate on the influences that have shaped your craft (be it writing, woodworking, painting… anything really), because I feel it’s important to stay connected to our true self at all times. It's possible you did this exercise years ago, but I invite you to do it again. Your craft has evolved over the years, and there are people behind that evolution. Give yourself ten seconds, and see what names come up now, you could be surprised.
Have a good one, talk soon.