Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Christine provided the question for our latest round of the blog chain and here it is:
“Which author or authors have most influenced your writing and how?”
I've been thinking about how to answer this question for several days now, and to be honest I was having some trouble with it. Instead of having the names of authors, and titles of different books floating around inside my skull there was this:
It seems no one can help me now / I'm in too deep there's no way out/ This time I have really led myself astray/
Runaway train never going back/ Wrong way on a one way track/ Seems like I should be getting somewhere/Somehow I'm neither here nor there
If you were a teenager in the 90's then surely you must at this point be - if not singing, then at least humming along - to Soul Asylum's hit song "Runaway Train". To say that I loved this song (actually the whole cassette - yes, I was slow to jump on the whole CD bandwagon - was in constant rotation along with Stone Temple Pilots and 4 Non Blondes) would be a misstating the case entirely. To say that this song expressed all of my teen angst in a sing-alongable format would be much more accurate and to the point.
Of course, having just turned 31, my teen angst years are pretty far behind me and it's been well over a decade since I've even seen that Soul Asylum cassette. However, a few weeks back I was listening to one of those "the best of the 80's, 90s, and today" radio stations and guess what song they started playing?
Thank goodness my children are not yet old enough to understand that their mother is a terribly painfully horribly embarrassing person, because I sang along with that song and every word came right back to me from where ever they had been hiding out in some far recesses of my brain for all of these years.
I know, I know - what does this have to do with books? Or the question? Or anything at all?
I'm getting there.
You see, ever since I became seriously addicted to books (which was somewhere during first grade, I think) I also became a big fan of the library. At least once a week I was at the library, returning one giant stack of books in exchange for another. And because of how fast I went through books, and because the books were returned instead of placed on a bookshelf in my house as a physical reminder, and because I just have a sort of crappy memory - well, I often forget the name of the book, or forget the name of the author, or forget the character's names, or forget the minor plot details, or forget the major plot details.
Usually I recall something though - my brain isn't entirely made of mush - and some essential detail would stick with me.
Like the book where the girl joined a band and she had this tense relationship with the main guy in the group and he made her shave her head and then she destroyed his toy train while on stage and while out of context those details make absolutely no sense at all, I remember really loving this book.
I have tons of half-remembered books like this. And then there are all the series books - Sweet Valley High, Babysitter's Club, RL Stine. Or the authors like Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume where I ripped through every book they had written. And then I got older and tore through every Mary Higgins Clark, Judith Krantz, and Sidney Sheldon on my Grandma's shelves. Then there was the required reading in high school and college and all the books I've read as an adult.
If you took all those books together it would kind of be like that picture at the top of this post. Layers of rock, all smooshed together so tightly that they all blend together. And I am constantly reading (Still mostly thanks to the public library system. Love you libraries!) and adding more layers. It's easiest for me to remember the books that make up those top layers, but the ones forming those bedrock layers are still important because even though they may be mostly forgotten, who knows when some small detail might come at me out of nowhere - just like a runaway train.
And now that I've brought this train full circle, I think it's time to hand things off to the rest of the blog chain. So make sure to check out Laura's post from yesterday and then tomorrow find out what authors have influenced Shaun.