This week: Who in your life has most inspired your writing?
Writing is equal parts words and story, and with no hesitation, I can say that the reason I write has to do with words. I mean, I love a story, am fascinated by clever plotting and complex characterization, but at the end of the day, I write (and have spent my life learning other languages) because I love words.
And I love words because of my family.
My parents started me on vocab lessons early on. I feel like I learned to talk at a surprisingly young age, but memories are warped little things, so who knows. I do know that I was an early reader, and a voracious one. But my voracity really stemmed from a desire to feel new words rattle around my brain and roll their way over my tongue, which is pretty much what I love most about writing now.
By the time I had started school, I had also begun what has become a lifelong tradition of sitting with my dad and racing to solve the newspaper's Jumble puzzle in our heads. By the time I was ten, I was a regular player of Upwords with him and his mother whenever we would visit (the only game ever played in that household). By the time I was twelve, I was forbidden the use of the dictionary. They never held back on me, and trouncing happened equally on all fronts.
|Upwords battle ca. 2009. My (then) 92yo grandmother still wipes the floor with us.|
My mother's family plays pretty much any game but Upwords, with an equal lack of going-easy on younger players, and we all tell stories throughout. Between the two of sides of the family, my brain has pretty much adopted words as the be all and end all of creative production.
To be honest, this has turned me into a difficult word-gamer to play against casually. Sort of ruined my college hopes with that background.
But it bolstered my writing. As did my parent's high expectations for my written schoolwork, and my mother's constant badgering not to be lazy, which is turn led to my love for a harsh critique, and a keen, dauntless eye in editing anything (my critique partners know well what I mean with that). Add to that my uncle's MFA, my mother's and my aunt's and my father's arts careers, and my brother's ability to spin anything into a story (okay, THAT is where the storytelling talent in our family fell – he once seriously convinced me five times with five different stories in one conversation that he had bought a new car. Which he hadn't.), I'm surprised I didn't get serious about my writing sooner.
So inspiration? Love Brian Jacques, love Vladimir Nabokov, love Michael Chabon and Kelly Link.
But I adore my family.