Who are your writing role models? Whose writing has most influenced you? Who are your writing mentors?
As I cast about for “which writers influenced me most,” I think of columnists who were also humorists. My dad idolized Will Rogers. In school, I loved Mark Twain and O. Henry’s short stories.
Instinctively I looked for female writers to gain permission that I might be a writer. As a high school junior I sat up typing on a typewriter a whole scene from Jean Kerr’s “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” to send to my fiancé who was away in college; it was not as funny when I finished typing as it was when I read it. Erma Bombeck wrote columns about an ordinary household, but she did it with extreme wit. I just missed seeing Dave Berry, a humor columnist hero, at last year’s Tucson Festival of Books, because of a scheduling conflict.
As young newlyweds my drafted-into-the-Army husband and I were so broke when he was stationed at Ft Bliss, TX that our only splurge was a monthly drive to the El Paso Public Library, one of those grand old Carnegie Libraries built at the beginning of the 20th Century, gloomy and foreboding. It had an incredible collection of books on metaphysics, mystic religions, and black and white magic. We read books by Madame Blavatsky, George Gurdjieff and Alistair Crowley, as well as The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda.
Years later, I studied to be a therapist. It was the time of Esalen Institute and the emergence of New Age writers. I was influenced by Fritz Perls, (Gestalt Therapy), and Eric Berne, (Transactional Analysis). T.A. for Tots gave us ‘warm fuzzies’ and ‘cold pricklies’ that helped children (and grownups) describe their feelings.
I am currently reading I Can See Clearly Now, a memoir by the late Dr. Wayne Dyer. He believed he was destined to become the successful writer that he was. He has a bombastic, ego-driven way of expressing himself, while declaiming the ego.
The best books by far that I’ve read on becoming a writer are by Steven Pressfield: The War of Art and Turning Pro. He says, “What we get when we turn pro is we find our power. We become who we always were but had until then, been afraid to embrace and live out.” He also said, “You will remember this moment, the moment when you decided to Go Pro.”