This question can easily be summed up for me in three words – All. The. Time! It doesn’t matter if it’s a phrase, the setting, or the plot, there will always be times when I wish I had written it myself.
I used to get moments when the writing or the plot from other authors was so good, it caused insecurity. I would compare my writing against theirs and feel like an amateur. My writing was vague, my plots thin, and my characters not fully formed. I wondered why I even bothered. I wasn’t good enough.
As a writer of Gothic fiction setting is very important, and when I read authors who describe setting so beautifully, I tear myself away from the book and absorb those words, and read them again, in awe of the author’s talents.
I’ve found that the more I read, I could emulate these authors in my own unique way. By continuing to practice my craft and learning by their examples, I began to establish my own writing voice. Once I accomplished that, I became more confident.
Yes, we can continue to have author envy, but like any other art form, we can appreciate their books for what they are – individual expression.
Who knows? When our own writing voices are out into the world, maybe one day an upcoming author will envy ours. 😊
Have you ever had author envy? What do you admire most about an author’s work? Have you established your writing voice?
Over the years, I have heard many writers discuss certain authors they grew up with and what their favourite book was during childhood and there was one or two books in particular that stands out for me. Mainly, though, I was one of those kids who had a tendency to spend a great deal of their time out of doors and involved in imaginative play, rather than keep their nose in a book. Evenings were a time spent indoors in front of the television and it was this medium that would eventually influence my writing.
My family and I would also spend a lot of time going out to the movies and the drive-in (remember them?). Once, during one of these family outings to the movies, I saw a film that would play a large part in my writing. When I was about eight years old, we saw Picnic at Hanging Rock, and because it remained a mystery, I was hooked. People don’t just disappear; there had to be an answer. This was the first time I had seen a story that did not have a clean ending. Questions remained, leaving the audience to fill in the blanks for themselves. My father bought a copy of the novel for me, which became one of my favourite books; I began to crave the unexpected plot twists and unhappy endings, knowing this was all a part of the suspense.
It wasn’t until I was about twelve years old I began reading in earnest and read just about anything I could possibly get my hands on. Because of Picnic and enjoying such television shows as The Addams Family and The Twilight Zone, as well as such films as Psycho, Rebecca and The Birds from Alfred Hitchcock, I naturally steered towards stories that scared me. Stories full of suspense which kept me guessing with what might happen next, continued to hold the greatest appeal.
It was film and television that made me a reader. And who did I start reading? Why, Stephen King, of-course! 😉
Years later, when I completed my first short story, I gave it to my husband to read, who called it ‘macabre’. When in consultation with the Director of Varuna Writer’s Centre at the time, after having read the first three chapters of a work in progress, I was told that my story reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock. Having myself compared to one of the influences of my childhood, naturally I considered this to be high praise. This, together with the ‘macabre’ label, I knew I was onto something.
After having studied film and television at University, I have learned more about the importance of genre tropes, characters and settings. The knowledge I have gained from this has been invaluable to my stories. These days, with people having shorter attention spans, film and television appears to have become even more popular (hello, Netflix).
It was the influence of film and television that helped made me both a reader and a writer; my imagination was there, all it needed was the spark.
*Side Note: Ron Howard is currently running the #20MovieChallenge on Twitter. Twenty films that have had an impact on you for twenty days – only post a pic, no film title or comment. I’m participating and also posting them onto my Instagram feed, so if you’re on Twitter or Instagram, you can check out my choices there. If you are also participating, I’d love to see your choices, so drop a link in the comments. 🙂
Has film and television ever influenced your writing? Does watching film and television help you with your chosen genre? Has watching certain movies and/or television shows influenced your choice of reading?