Day Four {Inspiration}

There is always a sort of snag in these subjects, isn't there? No matter how easy any given day may be, there is always some caveat thrown in that will gum up the works. I'm having the same problem with today's question of Lerowen's fifteen-day writer's challenge. To really adequately answer today's question, I would have to yoink the answer away from another day. This calls for some cunning. Cunning which I'm not at all sure I have.

day four: an author or novel that has inspired your writing style

Anyone who knows me knows the answer to this question. But, like any answer to any human question, it's complex. It's very likely that you could say my writing style really came into being around the time and after my mother read The Eagle of the Ninth to me, and when I began to pick up the other Aquila stories (The Silver Branch, Frontier Wolf, the Lantern Bearers, Dawn Wind, the Shield Ring). There are lots of excellent historical fictions out there, books that accurately handle the time-period and impress the reader with the vividness of the story. But the Aquila stories (along with others of the author's works) not only brought to life these Roman times, they put me in them. When I read those books, I was there, breathing those cool British winds, seeing those changeful Northern skies, waiting in the twilight or the fog or the bottleneck of some red-fern Scottish glen for someone to come meet me. I was there like a book has never made me there before. Everything stood out in stark relief: the sedge-grasses that Flavius pushed aside to a slip of wind, the tribesman's new collar of heron-feathers on his war-spear, the tinkle of silver bells, the splendor of a white stallion, the hard, warm Cumbrian fells under Freya's bare feet. Everything was real. There was always a sort of prancing lightness to the prose, the way light shines off a knife when you turn it - and the darkness of the knife, too.

I loved that. More than any other style I had ever read, I loved that. The light-and-darkness of the knife, the rushing beat of ducks' wings at dawn, the scarlet yelp of a horn - that is what those stories are to me. Everything was clear and present and stark on my vision. Rome was suddenly no longer interesting history, she was alive. Britain was no longer a confusing darkness of prehistoric tribes, she was alive too. They were alive and came together, in their scarlet and their gold, in their silver and their blue. I came to feel the union where they met and became one; I felt the difference where they met and did not touch. Everything was real to me.

And I wanted to write like that, more than anything. I wondered if anyone would understand what I was saying in such a style (elemental, Megan calls it), but, I thought, if I could understand then others could understand too. I had a story to tell and a story-telling way to do it. The Shadow Things is a child of my most beloved style. It came surprisingly easy to me, as if I had always been meant to write that way, as if I had always thought that way in my inside self, and it was just waiting to get out.

6 ripostes:

  1. I was thinking this morning, in the midst of my bleary just-awakeness, how odd it was that you had done C.S. Lewis for your favorite male author instead of Rosemary Sutcliff. And then I thought, "Oh. Duh. I must be even more tired than I thought..."

    Anyhow, I posted my Liebster Awards today and naturally you somehow made it onto the list. You're supposed to do five of your own now, and I thought maybe you could do "Awake," since I didn't have room.

  2. Of course! I saw that, and I was muchly peached. ^.^ But first, I'm afraid there are two scrambled eggs that require my attention. And don't worry - I made the same mistake about the favourite male author as well. But onward, ever onward! Her time will come to have justice done, dee dum, dee dum, da dee dum...

  3. A lovely poetic post! I agree that a goal for an writer is to make the book come alive.


  4. This is a really awesome post! I also love books that bring the words to life. That's a style I've always sought after, both for myself to write and also to read. There are some contemporary authors who've managed to capture that, however for me, I find 20th century literature to be the prime example of the prose I seek.

    And there are so many authors and novels out there that have inspired us in writing. Of course, there are those several few books that really define us, but now that I really think about it, we read thousands of different things each year. Advertisements, menus, books, cards, plaques, etc. I dare say that general writing style found in public today has also impacted the way writers write. But of course, that is just me musing >.<

    I've never heard of the Aquila stories, they sound rather enchanting, from your description :D Those first books that we read as children (or are read to us) always do imprint themselves on our memories as being very special pieces of literature.

  5. Love this!!! :) Its one of my goals with my writing style to not only connect the readers with the characters, but make the setting/plot come alive. Like they're right there in the thick of it!!

  6. I have finally gotten around to reading Sutcliffe these holidays. Her books are so easy to find in our libraries, I still can't believe I'd never heard of her before joining TLC. I've read the first three Aquilla books, am nearly finished Beowulf and have Tristan and Iseult waiting.

    A lot of stuff about you (like the names of your cats, the use of the word "mizzle", and choice of character's names) make a lot more sense now. I felt that, by reading her books, I was learning more about you.

    Thanks for introducing me to her books.

    I repeat what I said on Lys' blog that I apologise for not reading an replying to all the 15 day challenge posts. Too many of my friends are doing it to keep up :-P

    Ajjie >'.'<