I Don’t Want to be Influenced

When I started writing Hidden Temptation I wouldn’t read any novels. I didn’t want to be influenced or accidentally plagiarize. I was and still am an avid reader. I thought I was doing the right thing. I still watched TV and movies. I couldn’t be influenced by them right. Yea I’m sure I could have been. At the time, I didn’t think so.

 

 
I wrote the first draft of a novel titled Ruination. I wrote that while I was working a nine to five job. I would come home from work lock myself in the attic and pound on my word processor until two or three o’clock in the morning. Then I would wake up at seven, I got the kids up for school, dropped them off then went to work, where I was able to steal a few naps. Shh!! I would come home and do it all over again. I was free to work on my novel non-stop. My ex, took care of the kids and house. I wasn’t neglecting my kids, well maybe a little.

 

 
Ruination was about a Post-apocalyptic world. The earth was destroyed by world war three and people were looting, hoarding food, and trying to get everything back in order. I never went back to edit. I have a copy maybe someday. However I believed I was influenced by Stephen King’s, The Stand. At the time, the movie had just aired on TV. I read the original book when it first came out and I read the extended version when that came out. I was a fan of Stephen King and I especially liked The Stand. The story was embedded in my head. Ruination was an original story but I’m not sure. I kind of filled in the parts that King overlooked. Maybe it was nothing like The Stand but I thought it was.

 

 
That was why I wouldn’t read anything when I started writing Hidden Temptation. Later I thought since I was writing a love story I’ll just avoid reading love stories. No problem there. I’m not really a love story kind of reader anymore. So why did I write a love story?  I read enough love stories in my lifetime and experienced a few love affairs of my own over the years. Write what you know!

 

 
I realize as I edited Hidden Temptation I was wrong. Reading books while writing may have helped me with my writing skills. I say that because I took a screenwriting class some years ago. The instructor gave us a movie assignment to watch. In the following class, we would evaluate the movie. In doing so we learned what worked and what didn’t. We were learning from watching, we learned what worked and what didn’t. The only influence I had was learning to avoid the mistakes and perfecting what was ingenious about the movies we watched.

 

 

To this day, I still watch the movie critically. When I read books I evaluate what I read. I still enjoy movies and books I read I just do so with a different eye.

 

 
As a result, I wrote two screenplays. One I sent to The Library of Congress to be copyright, I don’t have a copy. The second one was good but I got frustrated and tossed it in the garbage. I did that because the movie Click came out and it was about a remote control that transported Adam Sandler in time. My screenplay was about time travel but it had a different concept. The only thing that mimicked Click was the remote control, my screenplay used a beeper.  It was the 90’s we used beepers, car phones, as they were called back then, were for the rich.  I wanted my idea to be original. It was except for the remote/ beeper thing. Young and dumb.  However, I won’t share particulars because I might write the story again. I think the idea I had would be relevant today.

 

 
Do you avoid reading when you’re working on a writing project?

Do you think reading helps you become a better writer?

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8 thoughts on “I Don’t Want to be Influenced

  1. reading i feel makes me better, but i would say i also try to keep it as diverse as possible. i know that if I just immersed myself in, say, Rilke, my poems would definitely begin to bend towards his. Ultimately we are influenced for better and for worse of all the stuff we have read, the movies we have watched (for a number of my poems, I tend to first envision it as a scene from a movie, with all the influences bubbling around).

    Back in September, I was doing the 3 Quotes 3 Days Challenge and the first one gave was from the film maker Jim Jarmusch:

    Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or feeds your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal that speak to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case remember what Jean-Luc Gudard said: “It’s not where you take things from — It’s where you take them to.”

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  2. I’m actually the other way around. I will read, watch and analyse all sorts of pieces of writing whilst I write my own work. It’s okay to be influenced and I think it’s nearly impossible to write a story that hasn’t originated from somewhere else but that’s okay. We’ve been telling stories to each other since the dawn of time – it’s in our nature and we are bound to find connections within our own stories with others 🙂

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  3. I read when I write. I have always read a lot too and still do when I have time. Which is a precious thing for me nowadays. I read with a new ‘eye’ also, I think most writers do. I read the same genre I write, mystery, suspense. But, I also read other things except romances. I used to read them when I was younger but I guess I’ve moved on from them.

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