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.