Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Writers Who Haven't Influenced Me
I love when writers talk about their influences. I find it endlessly fascinating and have done it myself. Some of my major influences would be Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John D. MacDonald, and Louis L’Amour.
But it occurred to me, twisted soul that I am, that authors almost never talk about writers who had no influence on them, despite the fact that they'd read one or more of that writer’s works. So, let me give you a list of my top non-influences.
1. William Faulkner – I’ve read a couple of Faulkner’s books and some of his short stories. I like the stories better, and believe Faulkner was a pretty good writer. But his style of telling stories, and his characters, just aren’t for me. And they are so different from my style and characters that I just can’t see how I could ever be influenced by him. Perhaps that’s to my detriment. But I just can’t see a Faulkner Effect anywhere in my writing.
2. Raymond Carver – I’ve read one collection of Carver’s stories and didn’t like any of them. People tell me he’s a good writer. OK. But I want characters who act, for good or ill, and Carver’s characters don’t act. They talk. I also find his characters unbelievable. I've never met any real life people like them, for example. Perhaps to my detriment again, I would strive very hard to not write like Carver.
3. Franz Kafka - I read The Metamorphosis and found it profoundly silly. I believe the basic themes have been done much better by other, and in a much more believable fashion. I can see nothing of Kafka in my work.
4. Hunter S. Thompson – Now here's a writer whose work I actually like. I’ve read several of his books and various of his essays. I’ve enjoyed them, but that style of “gonzo” journalism is as far beyond me as differential equations. Nothing from Thompson has spilled onto me. Except maybe some booze.
5. Tom Clancy – here’s another writer I like fairly well, but his subject matter and way of expressing himself on the page are very different from mine and I don’t see any sign of Clancy graftings in my own work.
6. There are other writers who I’ve enjoyed who I think have had little if any influence on my own work. Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, John Grisham, Richard Laymon are among them. All are fine writers, and I’ve very much enjoyed Asimov and Clarke, but it’s their stories that resonate with me, not their style and approach to writing.
How about you? Who weren’t you influenced by? And it doesn't have to be writers. Heff could tell us who didn't influence his drinking. Or Lana could tell us who didn't influence her art. The possibilities are endless.