Works That Most Influenced My Own

Everyone has a few specific works that most influenced them growing up, and creators are no exception. For us, these influences find their way into our works. They leave their fingerprints not only on our hearts, but on what we make. To shed some light on which works have influenced my own, and how specifically they’ve done that, I’m going through my own biggest influences below. See which of them you’re familiar with!

 

Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings cover art

I was raised on this series since the age of 8, albeit originally just the movies. But as I got older and delved into the books, I was exposed to a world of fantasy unlike any I’d experienced before. Sure, I’d read fantasy before, but high fantasy was a different beast. This is where I first became enamored with the idea of creating a whole world’s mythology and its languages, along with the very pure battle between good and evil. In other works these themes can be sometimes murky, but I also appreciate the absoluteness, the surety of Good in the LotR.

 

Fullmetal Alchemist

Full Metal Alchemist promo art

I tell everyone to read or watch Fullmetal Alchemist (which if you’re going to do, watch Brotherhood; it’s far more loyal to the plot). I’m serious. Do it. This series combines so many different elements that no two chapters read the same, no two characters alike. This was one of my first fantasy reads where there was no monarchy (gasp!); it also has bone-chilling political conspiracies, and strong depictions of man toying with the universe’s natural order. There are a variety of character motivations and plot devices far outside the norm that propel the story forward. As it was my first encounter with something like this, it’s been my bar for success ever since.

 

Frankenstein

Frankenstein Cover

I’ve been handed a lot of classics in my school life, and I’ve often hated them. I expected the same with Frankenstein— but ended up loving it instead. Growing up with a lot of moral Black-and-White-ism, this book challenged me. I struggled with reading about a creator who had no ill intentions yet did foul things, with a character that tested the very idea of what it meant to be human, with seeing the innocence in things that were otherwise corrupted. These were monumental concepts to me at the time, and remain so today.

 

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII Promo Banner

I cannot state this clearly enough: Final Fantasy VII was a definitive game-changer for me. (To be fair, all of the works on here are, but you get my point.) Its story had as much an impact on me as Harry Potter, introducing me to a whole new type of fantasy world in the process; one with a brutal depiction of class struggles and environmentalism and humans manipulating the natural world in a ploy to become gods. FFVII was a triumph of a story in so many ways and is widely hailed as one of the best video games of all time. A lot of that credit comes down to its plot, and rightly so. The breadth of this story is on par with any epic, and has inspired countless ideas and characters and themes in my work.

 

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender promo art

I distinctly remember seeing this show premiere when I was 9 years old, and I’ve loved it ever since. This was the first piece of media I’d ever consumed wherein no one was white, for one. It introduced me to the concept that there were other cultures to draw from than just northern European ones–which shouldn’t be revolutionary, but certainly was for 9-year-old me. Here is where I first saw the perfect example of a redemption arc, a favorite trope of mine to this day. I saw that you could balance a story that was equal parts lighthearted and intense. So many parts of this series have found their way into my own.

 

There are many great stories out there. Some of my all-time favorites aren’t even on here– but I’m not trying to share those. I want to share the most personally influential works that have impacted my own, the ones that you can find threads of in my writings. (And maybe introduce some folks to a new, awesome story. Who knows?)

What works have had the biggest impact on you? Comment below!

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Until next time!
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Why I Tried to Stop Writing

It’s true. I tried to stop writing.

This might come as a shock to some, as it well should. I’ve been writing consistently for over a decade and a half, so why would I try to sabotage myself? Why would I derail myself from something I’ve so long considered a dream? Simple. I was tired of trying to find balance.

When I initially graduated from college, I decided I was going to stop writing.

Not forever, but the plan was to stop writing for one year as I pursued different passions, traveled, and ‘discovered’ myself (whatever that means). Because writing hurt. Writing was difficult. It required getting up early or staying up late, it meant forgoing social events and spending whatever free-time I found outside of work/school to research and outline, it meant tearing your work apart for the thousandth time in pursuit of something better. It’s hard work, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it anymore. At first I was in high school, then college, then in the working world, always caught up as I tried to balance my academic/work life and my literary aspirations.

So I swore off the balancing act. It required too much time, too large a part of myself, and, to be entirely honest, it stung to be confronted with the very realistic thought that this would likely never be my career.

So I tried to give up. With the amount of time I invested into writing, surely I could invest that time into something else I’d more realistically attain, right?

At the time, I was set to move to China, where I’d no doubt be as busy as ever working and studying and exploring, so it would be a good time to leave my writing days behind. Or so I thought.

I’ve already talked on this some, but my time in China was not what I thought it’d be. When I felt isolated and insignificant, I gave in and let myself write a bit. When I had a toiling day at work or an encounter with yet another harassing or ogling person, I set aside some time to write. And when I was laid up in bed, unable to go much of anywhere or do much of anything, you know what I could do? I could still write.

I had tried to be done with writing, but clearly it wasn’t done with me. Even when my health left me, even when my wanderlust and verve left me, my stories were still by my side.

And so I fell back into my love of all things literary. Even on the days that I was feeling fine and could walk about and explore, I still set aside time in the wee hours of the night to write and edit and outline. It started with those small bits at first, until I was writing and editing more per week than I had been the whole month before that, on and on. Sometimes writers joke that they didn’t chose to write, but rather that they simply can’t stop. I understand that on a whole new level now.

Over this past year, my attitude around writing has experienced a dramatic shift. At the beginning of it, I’d actively stopped myself from writing. I didn’t post about it much, if at all. I tried to put my current projects on the back-burner. Jump forward to now, and I’m editing nearly 900 words a day, reading daily, and so forth. I’m on track to be well into my fourth book’s, THE IMMORTAL, second round of edits by the end of this year, and have outlined about 2 and a half books this year thus far.

Yes, finding balance and sacrificing time outside of work to write is hard. But as I’ve found, it is so, so worth it. And I’ll never make the mistake of thinking it isn’t ever again.

"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand." -- George Orwell

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