I have a long list of people who have influenced my writing style. My very first major influence was Elyne Mitchell, who wrote the Silver Brumby series. I loved her purple prose with a passion. (Try saying that fast without spitting. And let me just say here … at no point did I suspect Thowra was a palomino, since he was supposed to disappear in snow. To me, Arrow was a palomino, and Thowra was a milk-white grey.) My very first attempt at writing a novel was a Silver Brumby fan fiction; though no one called it fan fiction back then, called Allinta, the Flame. Allinta was copper-coloured mare with a golden mane and tail, and all her adventures were pale echoes of events in The Silver Brumby series. My writing style was florid, without the authentic touch that Mitchell brought to her work. She knew the Snowy Mountains and I most certainly did not.
I was just a pre-teen when I wrote Allinta, the Flame. As I grew older, into my mid-teens, I lost interest in finishing Allinta’s adventures. I had become a huge fan of Star Wars, and now I was writing excruciatingly bad Space Opera. I suspect my main character was a Mary Sue, and I base this suspicion on the fact that my two male protagonists were physically based on my two crushes at the time: Leif Garrett and Ike Eisenmann. I managed to finish this story, and – as I recall – it did show some actual flashes of originality. But it was still terrible, as I had only a vague idea of what it took to write a novel. It was a series of adventures with no real central theme to link them together.
During the time I was studying zoology at university, I found less time to write. I did attempt another Fantasy, thanks to a sudden passion for The Sword of Shannara. Alas, I spent more time studying than writing, and that story faltered in its early stages. I wrote a little poetry and the less said about that the better. I graduated with a Bachelor in Science. I got a job completely unrelated to my degree. I got married to the wrong fellow.
Then I reread some of my juvenilia. Oh dear. It was obvious to me that my talents didn’t lie with literature, and for over ten years I did other things. I took drawing lessons. I even did a diploma in Art & Design. Art tried to fill in the hole left by writing. Of course, it couldn’t.
I had a baby. I got divorced. I thought that my social life was over, at over thirty with an infant and a whole lot of baggage. I was wrong. I met the right man. I remarried. I had another baby. And even while she was a sweet little bundle of cuddles, my muse was whispering in my ear. “Write down these feelings. We can use them.” My second husband is an enabler. When I mentioned I was drawn to try writing again, he encouraged me. I joined an online writing group. I did a TAFE course in short story writing. Then I took the plunge, and decided to do a second degree, this time in writing, with his full support.
I had spent a long time having nightmarish dreams about being lost on a bus. The minute I started my degree, those dreams disappeared. I had found my way at last.
Now my life is submerged in writing, and I am content. I have found my own voice, my own style, and even if I am never published as a novelist, I feel a part of the writing community. It was at this point I decided to start this blog, and give back to the community that supports me. As well, I do volunteer work related to writing, such as judging the Australian Aurealis Awards, helping out at writing conventions, and giving seminars on the Steampunk genre. I run Steampunk Sunday, Queensland Australia on Facebook. I’m a tadpole in a very big pond, but I’m still swimming.
These days, my major influences for Fiction are Diana Wynne Jones, Neil Gaiman, Angela Slatter and a score of other writers. My Science writing is heavily influenced by Isaac Asimov. I’d love to write like Terry Pratchett, but I don’t have his genius for humour. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. That is why I did the Writing Experiment online, to take a risk and push my envelope. There is always something new to learn.
Isn’t it wonderful?