Ms. Lady Deborah over at FROM MY BROWN EYED VIEW has tagged me for this little meme. Sometimes I get to the memes when I am tagged, and sometimes I do not. But this tagging so moved an impressed me that I have moved some things around in order to meet the challenge.
The deal is I am supposed to list 25 authors who have influenced my writing. Then I tag some people at the end and they make up their own list of 25 and tag other people. It is the living next generation of chain letters that my stepmother used to believe in so fervently. Whatever. I know that this will not make me rich, nor will it boomerang back around so that I have a ready-made cookbook of two hundred recipes. This is a task designed to prompt me to share a little bit about myself and to poke some people into doing the same. We may not all get rich, but there is a possibility that we could be enriched along the way. And that works for me.
Here is my list:
1. Herman Melville - Moby Dick was the first book I remember reading where the words felt as though they were meticulously and lovingly crafted by a master artisan.
2. Dorothy Allison - with dirt poor, dysfunctional white trash roots, Dorothy Allison writes from the gut and speaks to my experience.
3. Carolyn Chute - Author of "The Beans of Egypt, Maine" Like Dorothy Allison, but with a Maine accent. Unafraid to write tomes that would sink a ship and still gets them published. Wow.
4. A. A. Milne - some of the simplest, most beautiful prose I have ever read. His stories carry childhood innocence from generation to generation.
5. Gerry Boyle - Maine author of murder mysteries. He used to be my night editor when I worked in newspapers. Always gentle and kind, even as he hacked up my copy.
6. Bill Roorbach - probably considered a Maine author now, even though he is from away, he wrote "Summers with Juliet" and "Temple Stream." He also taught a class in advanced non-fiction writing back when I was in college and showed me that stories don't have to fall into the binary world of complete fiction or dry reports. Non-fiction storytelling can be creative.
7. Randy Shiltz - "The Mayor of Castro Street" and "And the Band Played On" non-fiction can be gripping drama. It can also inspire people to action.
8. Maureen Dowd - Acerbic wit, Irish heritage and fabulous hair. Perhaps she'll run away with me.
9. Molly Ivins - unafraid to gore sacred cows, and brave to the end.
10. Tabitha King (but not for the reasons you'd think) She is a horrible writer with far more ego than her modest talent merits. Married to Stephen (he's written some scary novels), she refuses to allow anyone to edit her material and thus has shown me that no matter what your name is, you need an editor.
11. Rick Copp - Another Mainer. He's written some murder-mysteries, but that is not what inspires me. He was one of the original writers on the television series "Golden Girls." That was the first show I ever saw that stopped me cold with the thought "I want to be a WRITER on that show. Holy shit."
12. Frank McCourt - "Angela's Ashes" and "'Tis" his words show a real representation of the Irish American experience. And his dialogue is beautiful.
13. Barry Longyear - "Manifest Destiny", "Naked Came the Robot", "St. Mary Blue", "It Came From Schenectady" (and many, MANY more) A science fiction writer and another college instructor, Barry challenged me to write clean dialogue and share things from the deepest point of my own vulnerability.
14. Marge Piercy - is still teaching me that there is poetry that speaks to me without being dull.
15. Rita Mae Brown - illustrates to me that a writer must still work very hard to produce quality material, even after they get famous and date Martina Navritalova. Unfortunately, she has not always done that.
16. Ernest Hemmingway - "The Old Man and the Sea" made me weep at its beauty. I want to write so that you can taste the salt on the pages.
17. Edgar Allen Poe - masterful, morose, dark. Not all writing has to be happy.
18. Rhys Bowen - Marvelous spinner of mystery tales in historical settings, her Molly Murphy series was delightful in its description of New York City in the early 20th century.
19. Dale McCormick - "Housemending: Home Repair for the Rest of Us", and "Against the Grain: a Carpentry Guide for Women" Not only has Dale inspired me to use my hands to earn my keep, but she shows me that many of the mysteries of the trades can be figured out with some patience and common sense. A good pencil-drawn diagram can be vital as well, and there is no sin in relying on pictures to show what words might not.
20. Nanci Little - "Grass Widow", "First Resort", "Thin Fire" shows me that lesbian fiction need not be over-mushy like Harlequin Romances nor hard-core, but can be good fiction in its own right. And she introduced me to my little dog.
21. Joan Nestle - because sometimes lesbian fiction can be Harlequin-esque
22. Pat Califia - because sometimes it can be hard-core.
23. Douglas Adams - Hitchiker's Guide series. One of the few things I can re-read again and again. Brilliantly funny with crisp, punchy writing. Love it.
24. Virginia Wolfe - for starting not just a sentence, but a whole book, ("A Room of One's Own") with the word "But." Take that, you stuffy old grammarians!
25. David Sedaris - shows me how to use his own true voice and be poignant and wet-your-pants-funny at the same time.
There are others, I am sure, but this is what I am coming up with today.
Now, Ms. Lady Deborah did not give a little blurb about each one of her authors, but I did. Nobody says you've got to or you don't, just do it the way you'd like. The people I tag are going to do that anyway, without me telling them so.
Here are the people I'm tagging:
Sharon over at the Queen's Blog
dolphyngirl at The Verbosery
Elizabeth at Random Thots
Crum at Lost in the Bozone
Jen at Never a Dull Moment
Bull at Cthulu's Family Restaurant
Joy at A Spot of T
Karen Zipdrive at Pulp Friction
Gladys at Gladys Tells All
Claire at Unmitigated
Kay at Perhaps we learned something...
A final word on this meme and a bit of an explanation as to why it was so important for me to honor it. Ms. Lady Deborah reads my blog nearly everyday. She leaves nice comments. I read her blog every day. Sometimes I leave comments and sometimes I don't. Much of what she writes about is the African-American experience that is her life. Often I have no words to offer. As a white woman living in a predominantly white world, her blog is a window into a world I can never know. I understand discrimination - I am lesbian, after all - but I cannot know her experience with it. I read because the writing is good and because I learn something every day.
When she listed her authors, there were some I knew, many I had heard of and some that were utterly foreign to me. That is to be expected. Then she tagged her people. First was Rippa, a very cool guy with a very cool blog; second was Sojourner's Place, another amazing blog; then Verite Parlant, whose blog is called "Whose Shoes Are These, Anyway?" I love it. Then there was Revvy Rev, a very cool progressive man of the cloth, and then me. Me. ME?! I hardly feel worthy to be grouped with such smart, thoughtful people. Me? Little old grumpy, middle-aged New England lesbian of Irish heritage? I was - and remain - profoundly touched to be included. Of all of the blogs she reads and follows, there was ample opportunity to make up a list entirely of quality bloggers of color. But she included me. I am at once humbled and honored.
I felt a little self-conscious about my list as I wrote it up. It seems I am indeed a product of my own heritage and experience. I have no authors who are people of color. I have a healthy dose of Irish ancestry sprinkled throughout, some women, some gay men, some lesbians, at least one transgender person, but no people of color. Lots of white guys, some quite old and dead, and some women, some similarly old and dead, but nobody that doesn't look like they could have come from my (extended) family tree. I am ashamed of that. It seems that my cultural education is lacking. I will take Ms. Lady Deborah's list and head to my local library to see what I can find. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing others' lists as they respond to this thing.