A Writer’s Influences

This blog took some months to conceptualize. These were some of the writers whose works I admired and from whom I took inspiration:

Seymour Britchky, for his tart, bright, and straight voice showcased in his restaurant reviews from the 1980s.

Richard Critchfield, for his nonfiction narratives, his roving, vagabond soul and his respect for humanity.

Dominick Dunne, for his reporter’s eye and novelist’s sensibility, and for how easily he moved between the gritty and the glitterati.

Joan Didion
, for her rigor and dead-on accuracy, and for her lack of sentimentality. Her memoir on the loss of her husband, for example, was the coldest and most clinical look at grief that I’d imagine possible.

My friend S, the most beautiful woman in the world as I think of her, for her precision with language, her storytelling arts, and her grace. Hers is an elegance so profound that she has been known—true story, I swear—to turn a blind’s man head upon her entrance at a restaurant.

Zenhabits, Copyblogger, and disciples, for their highly strategic, to the bone content, and for always testing, simplifying, improving, and playing it by the metrics.

Alice Waters, MFK Fisher, and Julia Child for being at the forefront of what was possible in the food revolution they birthed, and for mixing memoir with method in their work, a life and career available for inspection, nothing held back.

In thinking through this blog, I tried to meld what I admired from these writers into something fresh and distinctly mine. A little from this one, a little from that one, and I filled notebooks before my concept began to take shape.  But it all began with a study of my betters. I could triple this list, but you get the idea.

So, who or what influences you?

Comments welcome and edited to include first names only, and website, if provided; never your email. Photo credits: reflection (left) and freedom (right) by evilkosmoz .

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  1. I agree. A writer worth his or her salt begins with a study of his or her betters. The perfect place to start.

  2. Jeffrey Deaver, for his ability to move a story along, make his characters sympathetic, and to make us use the little grey cells along with his protagonists. Harlan Coben, Robert Crais, and Jonathan Kellerman, for also moving the story along, and interweaving sub-plots and side kicks we want to visit again and again. All of the above for scaring us just a little bit, showing us psyches we hope never to meet in real life (but could if we’re not careful), and making sure the good guys win. Randy Wayne White for interweaving plots, background and ambience throughout a moving plot, never seeing that he did it, using dialogue that clearly distinguishes who’s speaking, and taking us places we want to go, whether we’ve been there before or not.

    • Terrific list. Very thoughtful, and I’m going to check some of it out. Thanks for writing!
      PS – Oh those scary psyches. Three cheers for happy endings.

  3. That’s a long list, which is a kind of wealth when you think about it. Nice to hear from you. D

  4. brain

     /  December 18, 2011

    I just added your blog site to my blog roll.


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