The Need to Write (it’s in the blood)

For this week’s exercise, tell us about a writer whose style most influenced your writing voice. Who was that author that when you first picked up one of their books, you thought, “I need to write”? What was the most memorable line you ever read by them and how did it exemplify their tone?

Reading has been an important part of my life since I was a young child. I may not have been able to tell time or do simple math problems until middle school, but I was able to read at a very young age (thanks Hooked On Phonics!). I didn’t read because I was trying to expand my vocabulary, exercise my brain, or please my teachers, I did it because I enjoyed it. I loved getting wrapped up in fictional characters who seemed all too real by the end of the story. I loved learning about animals, people, and places I had never heard of.

It wasn’t until high school that I realized the impact that reading was having and would continue to have on my writing skills. When book reports or research papers were due, my teachers would tell the class that they could immediately tell which students were avid readers and which weren’t. It reflected in our writing styles, they assured us. This only sparked my love of reading more! I thought that if I could do something I loved and become a better writer, why not spend as much time as possible with my nose in a book? 

In the past 20 years that I have been reading, several authors have influenced my writing style. I believe everything we read influences our writing styles whether we realize it or not. I have always been especially drawn to memoirs and biographies more than any other genre. I think that my love of memoirs has helped me develop into the “blogger” that I currently am. When reading about others’ confessions, experiences, and introspection, it helps me to be able to look at my life and do the same. When I read an emotion or story that someone else has written about and I can relate, it is a great feeling. Likewise, when someone reads a blog post of mine and tells me how much they enjoyed it, I am elated! Non-fiction and autobiographical writing can be extremely satisfying. 

I have gained my love of non-fiction books from one author in particular, Brenda Peterson. Brenda also happens to be my aunt! As a child, I would always brag to my friends that I had an aunt who wrote for National Geographic. I would tell them the stories that she had told me about the wild dolphins she encountered or her celebrity friends. She was the one who sparked my interest in marine life which helped put me on a path to working with dolphins in 2007

Now in my 20’s, I have read several of her books and am discovering what she learned years ago: how therapeutic both autobiographical and non-fiction writing can be. 

Brenda’s writing is thought provoking, witty, and inspiring. Through my writing and blogging journey, she has been a constant source of encouragement and support, even offering to help me get published. While that world is still incredibly intimidating to me, I love knowing that when I am ready, she will be there. 

When I read Brenda’s novels, I feel a sense of connectivity to the world around me, to the nature and energy that surrounds us all. Is this not the most important thing that an artist can achieve? Whether you write, paint, draw, sing, dance, cook, or play the accordion, if you are making your audience feel something, bet it happy or sad, you have succeeded in whatever it is you are doing. I write because it is an emotional release for me. I write because it is fun. I write so that others can read the experiences that I have had and maybe, just maybe, feel something too.  

“If we can write or sing or create in some way, even when we are dealing with difficulties or pain, then it becomes something bigger than ourselves- and often beautiful.”
-Brenda Peterson

My nephew, Liam, approves of Brenda’s children’s book Leopard & Silkie

10 thoughts on “The Need to Write (it’s in the blood)

  1. Pingback: “What I’ve Learned From My Elders” | The Other Courtney

  2. I love memoirs tooooooo! This is a great post and so cool your aunt is a published author. I plan on checking our her memoir.

    And thank goodness for libraries. Ours are slowly cutting hours and services – it is so depressing. Whenever I feel a shop-a-holic urge arise, I just go to the library and drag home 15 books. Then I can return them when the excitement wears off. Win-win.

    Keep writing!

    • That is GENIUS- going to the library when feeling impulsive and/or the need to blow money. I am going to have to do that!

      Have you read Tina Fey’s memoir Bossy Pants? SO good.

      Some other awesome memoirs:
      Hyper-chondriac: one man’s quest to hurry up and calm down
      The Glass Castle
      Running With Scissors
      House Rules

      All are a little dark, I guess that’s how I like them. Any memoirs you know of that I should check out? Always looking for new ones!

      • Totally helps the impulse buy / need to soothe myself hah. I haven’t read any of the memoirs you mention, but I know of some and will add them to my list!
        I liked “Liars Club” Mary Karr
        “Prozac Nation”
        “Drawn to the Rhythm”
        I am blanking. I’ve read more…

  3. Dearest Courtney,
    This post makes me so proud and grateful that you are my niece. I’ve posted it to FaceBook, tweeted it, and Pinned it. What else can I say but thank you! You inspired me!!

  4. Pingback: Weekly Writing Challenge: The Inimitable Chinua Achebe… | Mirth and Motivation

  5. Awwww what a beautiful post! I will never forget when you came home from high school one day and exclaimed that the books in the library were FREE!!!!! You were so excited. I still laugh whenever I think about that. Perhaps we spent too much time at Blockbuster and you thought you had to rent books just like movies.

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