Influencers: Part I – An Introduction

Welcome to a short series on Celtic Riverside inspired by a recent post about films that influence my writing.

My work on fiction seems to be gaining steam, and in my downtime I have found myself thinking about who and what inspire me to write the things I do. I thought about books, music, movies (obviously), characters, and people. In the spirit of that recent film post and equally recent autobiography on the blog, why not continue to cover some of the others?

In the interest of storytelling, they will appear in the following order:

Part II – Celebrities (because after seeing this list one will better understand the choices for…)

Part III – Fictional Characters, Men (which, in turn, provides context for the choices in…)

Part IV – Fictional Characters, Women

Part V – Social Media

And then I suppose Part VI or 0.I was the Films post already shared.

Before I get to that though, an introductory piece felt necessary because I am not one to court controversy. I want people to like me and, as a consequence, often feel the need to qualify everything I say or write. As I gathered the information for the posts, I noticed that the same qualifiers kept occurring, so why not address them beforehand and set an expectation, right?

  1. A question I would have reviewing some of these lists is, “As a writer, why are so many of the influences based on film?”
    • To be sure, the two things necessary for a successful writer are writing and reading. Are you a Jane Austen fan? Watching the Keira Knightly “Pride and Prejudice” or the Emma Thompson “Sense and Sensibility” is fine. I am a fan of both. It’s no substitute for reading the novels though.
    • In some cases, I discovered the film first and then went back to read the novel. In some cases, I adored the novel and had to see the film version when it arrived. In some cases, I do not even know if a novel exists. The film entertained me.
  2. When it comes to specific characters, many of the women characters come from a literary source and most of the men characters come from a film source.
    • Part of that is accident. As I said, some things I knew only as films and I fell in love with the character I saw on screen. Growing up, men featured heavily in the movies that I saw and I identified easily with them. It speaks to the representation problem one hears about all the time – I had the privilege of seeing myself represented across all media my entire life.
    • My interpretations of men tend to be more concrete while my interpretations of women tend to be more complex. I am sure there is bias in both my perspective and the way society views genders – especially across time. Books allow for far more imagination, and I suspect that gives my mind more rein to interpret the character.
  3. As one reads the lists, one may encounter thoughts like, “This is misogyny” or “This is peak white feminism”. I do not want anyone to dismiss those thoughts but I do want to examine them collectively, as writer and reader.
    • It was not lost on me that the lists predominantly feature white characters and white people, mostly English and American. It also occurred to me that readers will have opinions of these characters and people, and those opinions will colour how the reader views their inclusion in the list.
    • I make no excuses for the lists. I do find it problematic that a wider range of voices do not appear, and my current literary focus is on precisely that. My experience is still too sheltered and within an echo chamber. I am interested to see if I revisit these lists in the future how much they change.

The lists are not objective. They are opinions based on personal experience and emotional response. The lists are not even inclusive – I tried to limit or expand each list to around 30 items. I like many characters and people not on the lists, but restricted myself to those most prominent in my mind.

So, please, enjoy the lists, feel free to respond with your influences, and, by all means, feel free to offer constructive criticism (especially if that criticism includes recommendations for further reading and viewing).

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