Writer Identity: Who do you want to be?

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“I wanna be Bob Dylan.
 Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky…”

(Counting Crows)

Fantasy folks—writers, movie buffs, cosplay devotees, gamers and all the other kind of people you might rub elbows with at a major convention—are united by the playful desire to be someone else. No, I’m not saying such folk (myself included) are delusional or in some kind of denial about who they really are, hence my use of the word “playful.” I mean that we often play a version of the ‘what if’ game which hinges on imagining you are someone different.

This is, I think, healthy, and today I’d like to indulge the impulse a little, but give it a literary spin, and not towards imagining yourself as a literary character (though that might be a fun game for another day). So, simple question: which writer would you most like to be?

I know we all want to be ourselves (only with more money), but indulge me for a moment because I think this might be instructive, if only in getting us to articulate what we want, what we value. Let’s take it for granted that we don’t actually want to be other writers, but that there are things about other writers we want to emulate.

A few years ago, right after I’d sold the first Darwen book but long before it came out, I think I wanted to be J.K. Rowling, and not because she has more money than most small countries. Well, not only because of that. I wanted to be her because she had so galvanized a genre, stamped it with her identity and created a single epic series which had altered the course of literary history, film and culture generally. She also has many skills as a writer some of which—a real gift for pacing, for instance—I wanted to hone. These were reasonable things to aspire to, I figured, even if my vision was blurred by the glare of all those pots of money.

But I realized recently that I actually didn’t want to be J.K. Rowling after all, and not only because the world already has one of those. The truth is that while my latest book is cut from similar cloth as hers, I’m not really a J.K. Rowling-type of writer. In fact, taken as a whole most of my work doesn’t look anything like her work at all.

As some of you know, I write all kinds of stuff because I like to read all kinds of stuff. I’ve published contemporary mystery/thriller, adult fantasy, middle grades adventure, historical fiction (Macbeth) and right now I’m working simulatneously on a YA novel and an adult book which I can only call literary fiction. As an overview of a career, precious little of this is J.K. Rowlingish, but it’s absolutely who I am. There are continuities between my books and their various genres, but I’m a dabbler, impulsive, whimsical: an agent’s nightmare.

So who do I want to be now? I think I want to be Neil Gaiman. I love his stuff, and it takes lots of different forms: comic books, TV screenplays (Doctor Who for instance), movie screenplays (Beowulf), magical realist adult fiction (American Gods, Anansi Boys), high concept parallel world fantasy (the brilliant, Neverwhere), comic collaboration (with Terry Pratchett, as in Good Omens), children’s fiction (Coraline), dark, edgy YA (The Graveyard Book) and so on. He’s all over the map, but his work–however eclectic–always has a certain recognizable Gaimanesque quality, a Gaimanishness if you will. He writes high concept stories with strong hooks, but has a lyric skill with words and a fine sensitivity to character: these are things I love and seek to emulate. Like me, he’s a Brit living in the States. Oh, and he has pots of money. But that’s not the issue. Well, not all of it.

I like the idea of being successful despite my eclectic writing interests. I like the idea of being considered a serious writer while still working within sensational stories incorporating powerful visual elements, wit and originality. I like the idea of being capable of nuance in phrasing and the peopling of my stories while still wielding the kind of premises that make people glance at the back of the book and think “Huh. Sounds intriguing…”

I still want to be me. But I also want to be just a little more funky, which is to say…better: gives me something to shoot for.

So what about you? Who do you want to be and why?

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52 comments to Writer Identity: Who do you want to be?

  • Oh, oh, oh! I’ll play!
    Early Anne Rice. Lyrical, scrumptious prose, fully realised characters, gifted writer. And pots of money. :)

  • Tim Powers. The way he builds layers upon layers without forgetting anything or getting mixed up, and his talent for seeing the magical nature of what others would consider ordinary historical events…just blows me away.

  • Faith,
    good choice. I confess to finding her a little overwritten but she’s obviously very talented and massively important for an entire subgenre in addition to her own achievement within it. I thought INTERVIEW was a tour de force of POV. I could live without Twilight, but without Rice’s legacy there’d be no Buffy :(

    Misty,
    I’ve never read Powers, but I’ve heard great things about him. Another good target to shoot for :)

  • Now there’s an earworm I can appreciate! Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones …

    Can I make a hybrid? Because I want to be both Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley. Both are fantastic, successful YA authors, but in different ways. Pierce has two strong universes with many books (and one graphic novel), while McKinley has more breadth, and a more fairy-tale like voice. I don’t want to limit myself to just YA, though. And since I’ve got one British author and one American one in this hybrid, I should really throw in Canadian Tanya Huff. 😉

    When I look at the television,
    I wanna see me staring right back at me

  • bonesweetbone

    I’d want to be Megan Whalen Turner. Her books are so packed with secret details that you can read them over and over again and always discover something new. I don’t know if that came from her early focus on short stories or not, but even though she keeps things spare, she still manages to overwhelm you in a good way. I just want my writing and plots to be that focused and precise.

  • Laura,
    glad you liked the musical echo :) I think hybrids are a great idea. They force us to imagine who we might be by alligning qualities we respect in others while preventing us from overidentifying with one person so that we become derivative. Great idea.

    Bones,
    yes, I know what you mean about that kind of density that rewards the attentive (or repeat) reader with extra levels of detail and complexity. Great example.

  • Fireheart1974

    I like this! Can I pick two, also?

    I’d want to be Anne McCaffrey – she created a world that spanned entire genres – from fantasy to SF. Her writing is easy to read; she has great characters that you can relate to.

    And then I still want to be Tim Zahn but in a more fantasy way. Tim writes great characters but he also writes great action…not neccesarily combat but action. I think I do okay at characters but I suck at action and so I’m always looking to his work for inspiration.

    ~Fireheart

  • Yvette

    While I find all of Anne Rice’s books (even those penned under A.N. Roquelaure and Anne Rampling) taking up real estate on an entire shelf, I find that she is not who I asipre to be. A fine blend of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Rowling, and Kenneth Flint would make a more appropriate fit. 😉

  • Fireheart,
    I love the idea that you pick someone in Zahn who models something you know you need to work at. I was hoping the post would produce exactly that kind of response.

    Likewise, Yvette, I think t’s great that you choose not simply writers you like but writers who fit a sense of your own writerly identity which is, after all, different. I read all kinds of stuff I know I’ll never write.

  • Yvette

    AJ,

    I completely know what you mean. Much of my “reading life” I was drawn to fantasy and classics (Dumas, Stoker, etc.). After reading your first three books, I found a new appetite for thrillers. While I am currently earning a Minor in Criminal Justice (out of sheer interest in the subject), I know that I will never write crime novels but some of that information might come in handy when creating a future character.
    I praise your ability to mix things up a bit as I know I might not be successful in doing so. :)

  • Not to be a homer, but I would like to be like David B. Coe because I get captivated by his characters. He puts a spark in them that makes you want to cheer for them much like G. Kay.

    ALso, I wuold like to be like Robert Jordan in his lyric story telling style. When you read his books, you feel that you are hearing him in your head telling a story. I want my books to be like that.

    Oh, and toss in a side of Teryr Pratchett so I can always insert a sie of humor in my stories and still tell a compelling tale.

  • Well, as an epic fantasist, I can’t help but say a part of me wants to be Tolkien – not really, of course, but… the ability to fundamentally set the shape and form of an entire genre from its earliest days (I don’t think Tolkien quite invented Epic Fantasy, but it was undoubtedly in its infancy), such that the themes and tropes you pursue will influence generations of writers to come…that’s huge. Plus, I’ve become something of a closet amateur linguist (and yet, Tolkien managed to make a profession out of being a linguist and an epic fantasy author – a good gig if you can get it).

    Throw in J.K. Rowling, too. Yes, for the piles of money, but also for (1) pacing, (2) her facility with character relationships, (3) her ability to span generational differences and appeal across ages and especially (4) her ability to take familiar genre tropes and refashion them for her own purposes.

    A part of me will always want to be Lloyd Alexander (whose Prydain books inspired me to become an author at the tender age of 8), because of the powerful emotions I felt when reading his books. Really, I was too young then to understand the emotions of nostalgia, whimsy, or sadness for loss of innocence. And yet… and yet, I felt those things, raw and for the first time, reading Alexander’s books.

    And Robert Jordan, for sheer epic scope. (But not for his getting rather lost somewhere in the middle.)

    And… I could go on, it seems…

  • I should’ve pointed out that one thing I really like about both Tolkien & Jordan is the myth-making aspect of what they do. That endlessly facinates me, and it’s something I strive for in my own work.

  • MaCrae

    Oh Jeez. Any and all! Ha ha, but really I want to be a smash-together of all fantasy peeps. I want the scope and “magic oozing through the pages” power of people like JRR Tolkien,(except for the “olde speeche” writing style.) A modern flair like Brandon Mull and Wayne Thomas Bratson and more magic oozing-ness. The amazingness of E.E Knight. The writing style of Suzanne Collins, not first person though. I know I have more in my brain but I can’t drag them up. Hey, it’s friday. 😛

  • Yvette,
    that’s so kind of you. Thanks. And if you are interested, my next Deborah Miller adventure will be out in September :)

    Mark,
    David will be delighted. What an honor! And with Jordan and Pratchett he’s in excellent company.

    Stephen,
    yes and yes and yes! I think you’re right that however much we might quibble over detail, Tolkien effectively invented much of what we call modern fantasy. I don’t know if that kind of formative originality is still possible these days when so many people are part of the larger conversation, but it’s certainly something to shoot for. Richness and complexity in tandem with bold originality? Definitely something to shoot for even if you don’t come up with the equivalent of Elvish!

    MaCrae,
    more good stuff to shoot for. Thanks. You might want to be a little more specific than shooting for “amazingness” but I take your point :)

  • Yeah, hybrid. I don’t think I want to be any one writer, but perhaps things from each writer.

    Perhaps the speed and volume of someone like Piers Anthony, the fan base and earning potential of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or JK Rowling, as well as their movie deal potential, the sharp wit of Terry Pratchett, the descriptiveness of, say, Robert Jordan, and the ability for my work to stand the test of time with die hard fans of multiple generations like Tolkien. His ability at creating languages would be good too.

    That’s not too much to ask. 😉

    I think as far as a writer I’m closest to, I would likely pick Anthony, just for the fact that he’s done a lot of fantasy, sci-fi, and crossing of the two genres, which I tend to do as well. But that wasn’t part of the question. 😉

  • MaCrae

    Part of the amazingness of E.E. Knight is the diversity between his three dragon siblings in the series Age of Fire. They sound completely different but you can still tell they are siblings. Also the way he’s built his dragon culture in the books. (Sheesh I can’t organize my thoughts today!) I totally agree with you on Neil Gaiman, (especially Doctor Who!) his character are fantastic, although I think I terrified my mother when I was watching the Coraline movie, lol.

  • Daniel,
    I know I raised the spectre of fame and fortune but I think you are right to think less about that (a la Rowling, King etc.) and more about the writerly qualities and styles which earned them said fame and fortune. So I’d focus on stuff like the wit and descriptiveness you mention as well as the cross-genre movement.

    MaCrae,
    ah, so the amazingness is about voice and character. Cool, and definitely things to reach for.

  • Wonderful idea for a post, and like Laura I’m very happy to have Counting Crows bouncing around in my head for the rest of the day. (August and Everything After is one of my favorite albums of all time. By anyone.) I also want to thank Mark — that’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about my writing.

    I have always wanted to write like Guy Gavriel Kay. His worldbuilding is, I believe, the most intricate and consistent and artistic of any writer of this generation. I love his prose and adore his characters. When I was starting out, he was absolutely the author I most wanted to emulate. Like you, A.J., I also love Gaiman’s work and wish that I could write like he does. You and he actually have similarities — your facility with voice, your ability to blend snarky humor with powerful action and intrigue.

    And that brings me to a larger point. As much as I like the idea for this post, I find myself feeling that at this point in my career, I’m pretty happy being David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson. I want more from my career, I want to hone my craft. I see room for improvement and I’m willing to work hard to make myself a better writer. And yes, I absolutely want to sell more books and maybe pick up an award or two. But I like the path I’m on. And what’s more, I look at you, A.J., and at our MW colleagues, and I see so much to admire there that I feel that you shouldn’t be looking to be any more funky than you are already.

  • Ah, David, that made me smile. Thank you, my friend.

    And I absolutely take your point about wanting to be yourself and find your own path. In fact I think that as I wrote this I was hoping that in looking at other writers it would help people figure out what they wanted to be in ways which are actually quite idiosyncratic (which is why I love the idea that so many of the comments have been about hybrids or about picking different qualities from different writers). So yes, totally.

    To thine own self be true.

    So say we all.

    Or, to put it in Monty Pythonese,
    “You are all individuals!”

    “Yes, we are all individuals!”

    (Sotto voce) “I’m not”

    :)

  • Unicorn

    I’m another hybrid. I want to be C. S. Lewis, for a start. Narnia was what first inspired me to write fantasy and I want my books to draw people in the way “The Chronicles of Narnia” swallowed me up into its world. I want to be able to tell an entertaining story with a deep message, and I want my stories to live on for decades the way Lewis’s have.
    I also want to be Terry Pratchett, again for the ability to tell an engaging and funny but compelling story. His characters are incredibly real and though the Discworld floats through space on the back of four elephants on the back of a giant turtle, it’s so believable. Oh, and he’s knighted. Even better than pots of money. 😀
    Lastly, I want to be James Herriot. I know he doesn’t write fantasy, in fact he doesn’t even write fiction, but I want my voice to ring clearly through my stories, like his.
    There’s only one way that’s gonna happen so I had better get back to the WIP. Thanks for the post, AJ, it was really food for thought.
    Unicorn

  • Unicorn,
    glad the post helped. And yes, those are great authors to emulate. I’m not sure Herriot doesn’t write fiction. I know it’s memoir and grows out of his experience, but I think there’s more artistry there than he perhaps acknowledges :)

  • Julia

    I’d like to second Guy Gavriel Kay, whose novels are some of my absolute favorites. I actually often reread him when I need a little bit of inspiration for my own work, because the complexity and emotional resonance of his characters and scenes fires up my imagination.

  • Like David, I want to be happy being me as a writer.

    That said, without question, the author I want to be is Terry Pratchett. Clive Barker’s “the theif of always” made me want to be a writer when I was about 16, and I loved early Laurel K. Hamilton, but since the first time I read Pratchett in grad school, I’ve wanted to write like him. His ability to combine humon and pathos is one that I want so badly. The scene in Thud! where Vimes is broken, bleeding, semi-possesed and screaming the words to his son’s book “Where’s my cow?” because it is six o’clock and he is supposed to be home reading in a cave full of hostile dwarves is funny. It is laugh out loud funny. It also makes me cry every time I read it. There is something so real and human in that moment of utter ridiculousness that just touches my heart.

    And the millions of books sold? That’s nice too. So, yeah, Terry Pratchett. :)

  • Hepseba ALHH

    Okay, so the two I’m going to go with are Frank Herbert, for Dune and his ability to create such an original, complex, and truly memorable world, and Lynn Flewelling, whose prose style often feels like my own, but who has such a great strength in her characters.

  • Julia,
    here’s to complexity and emotional resonance!

    Pea,
    YES. That “Where’s my cow?” moment is so great and, as you suggest, so indicative of Pratchett at his best. Anyone who thinks comedic fiction or fantasy can’t be serious needs to be beaten with Pratchett’s complete works.

    Hep,
    glad to see some world building making the list, thanks! And any author who makes us think seriously about character and prose style should have their likeness rendered in precious metal.

  • John Crowley

    From The Deep to Beasts to Engine Summer and Little Big to all the way through his Aegypt series, his facile characterization and command of prose set him miles above anyone else in the genre without appearing pretentious. (Richard Powers, I’m looking at you.)

  • I would have to say a blend of Tad Williams, Dorothy Dunnet, and Tamora Pierce. If I could get the worldbuilding and fullness of text that Tad Williams has, Dunnet’s mastery of language and characterization, and Pierce’s sense of adventure and fun, I think I could die a happy writer.

  • Wolf,
    not familiar with Crowley though I’ll have to check him out. Incidentally, when I use the word ‘facile’ it’s almost always in its negative sense so I did a double take on this (though your usage is perfectly correct, I know)!

    Scribe,
    these things we want. But what I’d like to accomplish in order to die a happy writer might be an entirely different post. Such things are, I suspect, always moving targets. But yes, more great things to shoot for.

  • KR1L3Y

    I would love to be a cross between Dean Koontz and Rowling – extremely easy to read, creative, deep, and twisted.

  • Hey, everyone is choosing two authors! I want another one. For my second, I’ll take Sir Digby Chicken Caesar, the brilliantly purple, drink-addled secret agent (who might just be a hobo, but then again…) Who wouldn’t want to compose fabulous openings like “On a lonely planet spinning its way to damnation amid the fear and despair of a broken human race, who is there to fight for all that is good and pure and gets you smashed for under a fiver? Yes, it’s the surprising adventures of me, Sir Digby Chicken Ceasar…The story so far: As usual, Ginger and I are engaged on our quest to find out what the hell is going on and save humanity from my nemesis, some bastard who is presumably responsible!”

  • KR
    yep, never underestimate the power of being readable. A good thing to keep in mind.

    Misty,
    I have no idea what this is but it sounds awesome!

  • AJ, Sir Digby is a recurring character on That Mitchell and Webb Look. Not so much a writer, I guess, since he rarely has anything to write on. But marvelously purple!

  • M, I’m actually new to the show. Now I have something to look forward to.

  • Ken

    I’d like to be either Patrick Rothfuss or Jim Butcher. Both have (within a single book) moved me to laugh out loud and to tears. I’d love to be able to evoke that kind of emotion. Also you can tell that they are really having a good time with the story.

  • Good question…and I’ve a number that I wanna be.
    Asimov, Gibson, Phillip K Dick, Heinlein. Yah, they’re all sci-fi authors, but their world building skills extended beyond their writings. Nope, they didn’t predict the future, they influenced the people who are building our future. There are so many others, not only in sci-fi, but those are the ones that influenced me when I was young.

    Another is Joss Whedon. He has a gift for bringing together the right characters, and putting them in the right situations.

  • christy

    I’m going to be a hybrid too.
    I’d love to write like Jodi Picoult, because she can write a scene where it seems like nothing’s happening and yet it keeps you on edge the whole time. She’s not a fantasy writer, I know.
    Although Tolkien was my first influence towards writing fantasy, I think I’d like to write more like CS Lewis. It would be amazing to write something that stays around for decades and to create such a timeless world.
    Oh, and add Cornelia Funke to the list for her worldbuilding :)

  • Ken,
    good call. Butcher is great at moving subtley between emotional registers.

    Roxanne,
    yeah, I know Whedon isn’t a novelist but he’s so good with character while simultaneously being so witty and clever. Love his stuff.

    Christy,
    more good world building. I like the sense of Picoult as a writer of subtext too.

  • Razziecat

    I love this post… :)

    I want to be Patricia McKillip, who turns words into colors and light, shadows and music, time and magic and mystery. I want to be Lois McMaster Bujold, who blends humor and drama and yearning and love into wonderful adventures. I want to be Carol Berg, who couldn’t write an ugly sentence if she tried. And I want to be Judith Tarr, whose craft has been honed to a razor’s edge of simplicity, every non-essential bit burned away. Each of these authors writes characters who live and breathe, and get under my skin; I feel their suffering and their joy. And each of them makes magic a living, breathing part of the so-called “mundane” world. I want to be able to do that, too.

  • Razzie.
    what a beautifully evocative description of authors who (I am ashamed to say) I don’t know at all. I hadn’t realized what a wealth of recommendations this post would generate. Thanks.

  • Vyton

    AJ,
    This is a great post. Thank you. I love the humor and imagination of Pratchett. All of the analyses of Tolkien have identified where he got this and where he got that, but where else could Pratchett have come up with his world but out of his own head? I would also toss in Jasper Fforde, Heinlein, and of course Douglas Adams. That’s not too much, is it?

  • For the sake of this excercise I’ll be Cory Doctorow. I write fiction and non-fiction. With Cory the issues taken up in his polemical non-fiction, column writing, and essays are taken up in his fiction. I aspire to the kind of work habits which would make it feasible for me to have a column in the guardian, locus, while still punching out a story for an anthology, a YA book, and an adult novel.

    Style-wise I’ve really been digging Caitlin R. Kiernan lately. I would emulate her lyrical poetry.

    Or speaking of poetry someone like Ursual K. Leguin or Catherynne Valente who also write poetry… A writer who is comfortable shifting between essay, story, and poetry, while still cranking it all out.

  • Razziecat

    AJ, thank you. To really see what I mean about Judith Tarr, find her “War of the Rose” trilogy published under the name Kathleen Bryan. I’ve never seen a better example of how to write clean, lyrical prose that goes straight to the heart.

  • I wanted to be Tolkien. Still do, sort of – Peter Beagle, in the introduction to one of the editions, said “here are beauties that cut like swords.” Every time I think of that, I think “yes. I want my work to do that.” Ursula LeGuin, especially in Left Hand Of Darkness and Orson Scott in his short stories do that too.

    I want my work to matter, to make people come back again and again because the lyricism of the words, the realness of the characters, and the beauty of story feed their souls somehow. It feels awfully pretentious to just say it baldly like that, but it’s true. I want to write a darn good story. And I want to sell a ton of books. But I also want my books to be ones that someone, somewhere reads again and again and again and gets more out of on each read. All three of these authors did that for me.

    One of the ironies of wanting to imitate these authors has been the slow realization that the beauty of their work has a lot to do with not shying away from the uglinesses of life. The elves are pretty, but Sam holding Frodo, naked and bleeding and ringless in the orcs’ tower – that’s beautiful.

  • TwilightHero

    Robert Jordan. No question. The Wheel of Time was what first inspired me to write – I remember finding The Eye of the World at age eleven and staying up far too late reading it. It sucked me in like nothing I’d come across before then (which wasn’t a lot, I was eleven). And though I’m now older, more experienced (read: jaded) and can see what can be considered flaws – I’m not as ambitious when it comes to side plots – it probably says something that I own the entire series and have read every book multiple times. The scale, the scope, the characters’ depth and evolution over time…I could go on, but in essence, he didn’t just tell a story. He built a world in which the story happens to take place. And that, I think, is the greatest achievement any speculative fiction writer can aspire to. To be acclaimed not just as a storyteller, but as a creator of worlds.

    So I would be Robert Jordan, because I want to do that. Creator of worlds. It has a nice ring to it 😀

  • The Mathelete

    TL; DR (aka. Too long; didn’t read): The Mathelete is kind of a weird gay guy nerd from the South who writes for entirely personal reasons; doesn’t understand why you people go through all of this pain 😉

    After reading all your lovely posts, I now have plenty of great new authors to look for the next time my money burns a hole in my pocket and I wander into a BN. Many were ones I had never heard of, and others were ones I had never before read but had recommended by my friends. That said, I guess I’m the odd man out in addition to being way late to the party (WORK–GRRR!). There are plenty of authors I really admire and look up to (many already named here from McCaffrey to Herbert to Tolkein to Rice to Gaiman to . . .). There are also many authors I love to read with a guilty conscience because I know it’s drivel but love it anyway (no, I won’t be listing any of those in case others disagree with my call of drivel-ness).

    But I don’t really want to be any of these people. Or even as David and Pea said about being happy being themselves in their writing careers.

    In fact, the reason that I started writing again after about a six year hiatus from my first novel-length effort was because I couldn’t find an author peddling what I wanted to read. So, I guess if the writer exists who I want to be like, I’ve not read them yet :( That also likely implies that they do not have buckets of cash. I’d be totally cool with that.

    I write the stories I want to read (or wish I read in the past). I don’t think much about publishing because it seems like a real drag. I sent a couple of queries a few years ago — denied, quite rightfully. I’d have to do Face-plant and My-garage and four-chairs and chat-“eek!” and whatever profiles and such online. I’d have to woo agents to woo editors to woo publishing mangers to woo Beelzebub. If anything, the last 8-10 months on MW have taught me that I really, really don’t want to be a professional author 😐 It’s SO much work in so many areas that have nothing to do with storytelling or writing, and it often seems to come out to far, far less than my day job’s salary.

    And maybe that’s why I’ve not met my aspiration idol. The guy I want to be can’t really exist in today’s publishing universe. Like me, he’ll still write (I’m up to 8 novel-length works of fiction — a million edited words, here I come!), but he’ll be daunted by annoying stuff he doesn’t want to deal with because he has a job that consumes huge amounts of his time and doesn’t want a second one. He’ll continue writing because it brings some bit of solace to his soul. They’ll pile up and fill his closet, just like mine.

    I give huge and mad props to all of you who actually do this professionally, but the more I learn about it, the less it inspires me. So I’ll just keep telling my stories to my laptop, shipping them off to friends, and enjoying this time with the stories and characters. The characters live on. As do the tales. Not so much the “wa-wa-wa of solicitation.”

    Guess maybe when I die, somebody will figure it out … Mathelete 😐 Y’m only 3Os!

  • Sarah,
    not pretentious at all. I think we should all reach so high. And I’m glad to see LeGuin make the list :)

    Twilight,
    I have to admit that I’ve never been able to get through Jordan, though I concede his gifts as a world builder and (obviously) his success as a fantasist more generally. His prose and characterization just don’t rise to the top for me, but I know he is wildly popular and models a strong strand of the fantasy tradition. Go for it.

    Mathelete,
    well, I guess there’s value to realizing you don’t want to go through the rigors of getting published, amrketing etc. and I totally sympathize with not wanting to spend your time on stuff which isn’t actually writing. I won’t deny that publishing demands a lot of you which isn’t about simply making stories, but the writing is still the bulk of the work, and published authors don’t HAVE to do all the self-promotion stuff, particularly if they are just happy to get their book out there and leave it be. I wonder if we perhaps sometimes over emphasize the non writerly parts of being a writer, but maybe that’s a post for another day.

  • Late to the party, but…

    For me it’s George R. R. Martin. His worlds are amazingly complex and peopled with characters that are strong, weak, flawed, loveable, horrid, sweet, awful, selfish, real.

    And Guy Kay. Lyrical voice. Music in words.

    Stephen R. Donaldson for opening doorways into the unbelievable and making them more believable than the real world.

    Frank Baum for pure magic.
    Dr. Suess for whimsy.

    And a dash of Mark Twain for contrariness.

  • I’d like to be more like George R.R. Martin because of his detailed and gritty writing style. A Song of Ice and Fire is chock full of all the wacky goodness I wish I could emulate. But I’d rather be as prolific as L. E. Modisett Jr. Who spits books out like I only wish I could.

  • Awesome post. When I was younger I wanted to be Robert Jordan, he was the author who really inspired me to go “I really want to spend my life making stories.” As I grew older I’ve gone through phases of wanting to be Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman, and a bunch of others. Now, as an adult, I’m not even sure that I want to be a writer at all. I’m working at a small press and discovering I have a flair for business and editing that I simply don’t have for writing. My dream is slowly changing into having my own imprint. It suits my talents better, I enjoy the work immensely, and I’m growing more convinced that I would be happier with “editor-in-chief” on my business card than with “writer”.

  • If I can’t be Jim Butcher maybe I can at least grow my hair long! I think I’m pretty cool with being me, but I could stand a stint as Christopher Moore maybe. His casual invention of new phrases of profanity is a truly astounding talent.

  • sagablessed

    Hybrid here as well. But not JK or Steven King, or any of those. I would like to a bit of early Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer-Bradley, and a touch of Ursula K LeGuin or early Mercedes Lackey. I most be getting old, as I consider the first two my prime reason for writing.

    It may be just me, but Mists of Avalon and the Darkover novels should be enshrined as classics in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.