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Dear Writers: It Doesn't Matter What Inspires You

The Missouri River Regional Library. Or, as I knew it, HOME. Photo courtesy of the Tribune.

About four years back, I stumbled upon the Jefferson City Writer's Group. They welcomed me with open arms, but at the beginning, I felt a little like Robin in the Justice League. I was a newcomer in a room full of exceptionally bright and creative people, and they were very casually tossing around references that I'd never heard of. Names like Hemingway, Tolstoy and a bunch of others I'm pretty sure had been forced on me in high school.

Needless to say, I spent a lot of those first meetings asking questions and taking answers. And Googling. Lots and lots of Googling.

I tried virtually everything that was recommended to me over the course of those first few meetings. I just could not get into some of them. Not at all bashing them; they achieved legendary status for a reason, but they just weren't for me.

I should probably note that at that time, I had just disovered DC's "Identity Crisis" penned by Brad Melzer and drawn by Rags Morales. For those of you who haven't read, it's a graphic novel that humanizes the most powerful heroes in the DC universe by placing them in a murder mystery that claims the life of someone close to them. It was the most riveting thing I'd read in a long time, and based on that book I was compelled to track down Mr. Melzer's other bodies of work, Book of Lies and Book of Fate. Both are traditional novels.

I've often heard it said that to succeed as a writer, you must love reading--and truer words have never been spoken. You have to love reading, and you have to love reading actual books.

But it's very okay to get your inspiration elsewhere. All that matters is you write.

The truth about my writing is that I cannot draw anything to save my life. But I'm good with words, so here I am. When I go to any bookstore, the first place I head is to the graphic novel section. My favorite authors are Brad Melzer, Geoff Johns, William Shakespeare, Neil Gaiman, Brian Michael Bendis, and Frank Miller. They are where I get a lot of my how-to's from (I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Orson Scott Card).

I'm also a huge proponent of story-based gaming. I love the Mass Effect series. I used to be a lot more into Metal Gear (it's gotten kind of weird lately) and I'm really hoping they resurrect the Legacy of Kain series.

Video games and graphic novels, especially the huge untapped potential in the former, are where I go for my ideas.

And there's not a damn thing wrong with that because I write.

My point is this; it doesn't matter where you get your inspiration from. There's no great rulebook of writing that says you have to do one thing or another in order to succeed. Is it beneficial for you to immerse yourself in the successful works of others in order to figure out your own voice? Yes. Is it the only way? Not at all, and I encourage you to break away from the norm and do whatever it is that you enjoy. You may find it fires up for your muse.

It doesn't matter what motivates you to write.

All that matters is you write.

Thanks for reading.


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