One of the speakers in Santa Barbara was Carolyn See, who was wonderfully wise and droll and witty and smart. I bought her book Making a Literary Life , a highly useful little book no matter where you are on the writing path. (I especially loved her "recipe" for writing articles–as she says herself, it’s worth the price of the book, and no, I will not tell you what it is.)
One exercise she offers is to make a list of the ten most influential people in your life. I took up a pen and started scribbling names. In the end, I was startled by my list. I won’t bore you with the whole thing, but I was intrigued to notice the people who inform my work. Some I expected. Some I did not.
I wonder if the list would be different if I’d been thinking less about writing.
The first one is my grandmother and my mother. In combination, the pair of them yin and yang. Their relationship, and my place in it, is as important to my work and my own, very complex relationships with each of them.
One I was surprised to realize was still on there is my ex-husband. Larger than life, with a laugh that fills a room and hands as big as platters, he’s complex, not easily known, and shaped much of my thinking about families, music, culture.
Who is someone highly influential in your life? If you are a writer, can you see that stamp in your work?