Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Shaping a Life - Books, Writers, and Writing

I was inspired by Jeff Hess at Have Coffee Will Write to think about the books that have shaped my life. Jeff was asked by a friend to identify ten and ended up with his "Eighteen Books That Have Shaped My World."

Usually I just think about ones that are favorites, but that is slightly different than the books that shaped my personal reality. Some fit into both categories and some don't. I have always been a voracious reader so the question becomes what really stuck, what really made a difference. I can't remember where I read it, but I have to agree that I wasn't so much influenced by what I read as I discovered myself in it. So much of who we are isn't revealed until a light is shone upon it, and quite often I have found that light through the words of an author that resonates with me on a very deep level. I haven't gotten to ten yet, but I may come back and update the post as they come to me. I'll have to say that they aren't in any particular order. That may not turn out to be true, but I'll figure that out later.
  1. Cosmos - Carl Sagan (As part of my 'reading everything in the house' campaign I probably read this the first time when I was seven years old. The wonder it inspires was delightful to my young mind.)
  2. If I Ran the Circus - Dr. Seuss (We had a ton of Dr. Seuss books in our house, but not this one. I read it at school once and it stuck with me for the rest of my life. When we got some "childhood stuff" from my father-in-law's house I discovered that my husband had a copy all along. I hopped up and down saying, "I knew I loved you for a reason!" Then I sat down on the floor and re-read it for the first time in twenty-five years. It still struck a cord. What resonated? It was probably the first budding sign of my leadership talent - a desire to dream a big dream and be in charge. It took a long time for that talent to manifest and others saw it before I did.)
  3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (I used to read the trilogy every year for about a decade. I thought I was Marvin. Turned out I'm Eddie. Or maybe Trillian. What resonated? Wonder and genius and humor. "You may think that it's a long way to the corner chemist's, but that's just peanuts compared to space...")
  4. The Stainless Steel Rat - Harry Harrison (I don't remember where the quote shows up in the series, but to this day I often repeat the phrase, "Never lie. Tell selective truths." It's the only way for someone compulsively honest like me to live a somewhat normal life.)
I said that on Wednesday's I would also share some writing blogs with you. The blogger that I'm hoping will bust into a writing frenzy is Subspace from The Bean Mines. No one tickles me quite like Subspace. I'd also like to direct you to Fixer's fiction at The Practical Press. Fun stuff, but he is SO prolific that I can't keep up with him.

In my own fiction life I have dug out ye olde files and tried to decide what I will focus on. Focus, for me, is not such an easy thing. To be kind we could call it a... non-talent. Snappy dialogue? Check. Engaging characters? Check. Interesting plots? Check. Focus to get something done? Er.... not so much. If you ever need to see a very large collection of first chapters, I'm your girl. I wonder if I could bundle them all up and sell them under the title "Potential"?


  1. Shalom CmdrSue,

    I've loved Harry Harrison's works since I read my father's copy of the Deathworld book when I was around 10.

    What I like best about Harrison's central characters is that they are thinkers and doers.



  2. CS, Chuck Palahniuk's site has lots of writer's workshops and resources, some pay, some free.
    Not sure if that's your cup of ratkajino, but just FYI...