In the 6th grade I started my first novel – an epic fantasy – where a farm boy discovers his ability to speak with wolves, and a wise wizard comes to guide him. I’m particularly proud of those first five chapters, and that my twelve-year-old self realized the project was worth abandoning. That first book fueled my desire to be a writer and spurred me onwards.
My first love of reading happened with Harry Potter, like many other children of my generation. However, Eragon gave me the hope I too would become a writer one day. When I learned Paolini wrote the first draft as a teenager I thought I could too. Even today I’m in awe of his abilities. I was not a prodigy, but I dedicated myself and kept at it.
In college I took my writing endeavors serious and finished my first novel. Thankfully, I didn’t know about self-publishing because that novel isn’t ready, and I’m not sure it ever will be.
The real turning point in my journey was when I discovered Brandon Sanderson’s Writing course online. BYU was kind enough to allow Sanderson to upload his lectures for the world to see. I’ve taken his course via YouTube at least 10 times. Each year when he uploaded a new recording, I would stop everything else to listen. What’s more is I noticed that I wasn’t learning as much each time. And today I’m proud to say I’ve learned everything the course has to offer. However, my journey is far from over. I constantly focus on new areas to improve as a writer. Yet, I wouldn’t be as competent a writer as I am today if it hadn’t been for Sanderson’s lectures.
With television it’s easier to keep track of my influences. (With books there are too many to count.) The first show that changed my fundamental understanding of story was Stargate SG 1 along with Stargate Atlantis. Being able to see two shows that were so similar to one another and identify how they differed taught me about story structure in a way that nothing else could. Gilmore girls taught me quick witted dialogue, and any historical drama set before the steam engine inspires me.
This may seem like an odd spattering since I write Urban Fantasy, but to the best I can tell these have been my major influences and the stories I go back to for ideas or mood. I’m always pushing myself to learn and expand, and I read at least two books a week, but I’m not sure I’m influenced in the same was I was with those early media loves.
“Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” ― Flannery O’Connor.
I’d like to add, “The stories we experience in our childhoods are the stories we’ll build upon as adults.”