Writing Wednesday: Writing Under the Influence

Last Week’s Goals

My Writing Wednesday and Fractured Fragment Friday posts went out on schedule, but Meandering Monday did not happen. Even though I “excused” that in this week’s Meandering Monday, it still counts as a fail.

I had five more pieces returned from market submissions, all of which were back out in circulation in a day or two.

“Lasting Impression” (my first release of this year) completed its Smashwords presale, preorder and its release weekend. I admit to some disappointment in how Smashwords presales have been working for me: they haven’t. This is now nine releases that I have run with a presale, giving each book away for FREE in advance of its release, and I have not had a single reader take me up on it. If anyone out there has some feedback on why that is – including why you personally chose not to use the free presale, I would love to see it in the comments – thanx!

My next indie publication is scheduled for release March 18th – I have yet to decide what that publication will be.

In preparation for creating my own audiobooks, I spent some time learning how to use Audacity. Now I need to set aside some time when I know I can read and record undisturbed.

I wrote on six days, but made my daily quota on only two of them. I missed my weekly 3,500 word quota with only 2,533 words of fiction. The draft of Swordsmaster #3 is near 24,500 words.

The Why’s Behind My Writing

This Writing Wednesday, I thought it might be interesting to revisit the various types of influences on my writing.

Why Do I Write?

I am a dilettante, which means dabbling in a lot of directions, but not in as much depth as someone who wants to be an expert. I take in and incorporate what I find interesting and move on to something else.

I spent a lot of time with the arts in my youth. I learned to play several musical instruments (Trumpet, French horn, E-flat horn, Alto horn, Trombone, Guitar, and fiddled some with keyboard.) I did some acting from 6th grade until I was twenty-three. And there was some singing in there, too.

I used to dabble with writing in my younger years – some short fiction, Swordsmaster4some scenes for plays I never finished, songs and lyrics. The only attempt I had made at a novel was in 1979 with the first rough start of what would eventually become Swordsmaster, and my last short story was in 1983.

In 2004, I took stock of my life (as part of a Franklin-Covey course), and decided I needed a creative outlet. Getting back to playing my instruments wasn’t practical unless my cohabitors had adequate ear protection. Acting would have required dependency on others and space on my schedule that wasn’t possible. So I decided to write.

Why Do I Write Speculative Fiction?

There is advice I’ve read that you should write what you enjoy. I first became interested in speculative fiction in grade school. Initially, most of my reading was Science Fiction (the first one I remember reading was Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke.) As I got older, I headed gradually toward Fantasy (I read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings when I was in my mid teens, and had shifted from mostly science fiction to mostly fantasy by the time I reached my thirties.

Writing fiction allows me to make things up, and speculative fiction gives me that experience in spades. Sometimes a story begins to make its appearance in my mind and seems like just a “normal” story, but sooner or later the speculative element reveals itself.

What Are My Influences?

I was in my first stage performance in 6th grade, but I was actively involved in theatre from 9th grade through the age of 23 – I bring this up not for genre, but because of its impact on my writing – I read a lot of plays, and that influenced my ability to write dialogue (dialogue often comes to me first, before I even know what the story is about.)

As a side-note, my acting influenced how I approached wargaming – particularly role-playing games (I was a D&D’er in the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s) and this roleplaying (both in interpreting the story the gamesmaster was leading us through, and creating my own scenarios as a gamesmaster) also helped influenced and exercised my plotting skills.

I was also influenced by Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, which is part of why I enjoy plot twists. The format was – of course – speculative fiction, and also contributed to how I tend to see my storiesADishBestServedCover in my mind as though on television.

TheBodyCoverAs far as literary influences go, I think Edgar Alan Poe was set in my subconscious a long time ago, and I can see his influence in some of my more sociopathic characters (the chef in “A Dish Best Served” makes me think of The Cask of Amontillado”, and “The Body” has a Poe feel as well, although the protagonist Geoffrey’s  dispassionate nature may have come more from Ambrose Bierce’s “An Imperfect Conflagration”.)

As far as style goes, I tend to think my mind is still back in the what I think is the golden age, or the classics (Wells, Verne, Clarke, Asimov) although there’s also some Card, Le Guin, Tolkien and McCaffrey in there. It’s embarrassing to admit that I did far more reading in my twenties and thirties (more than half of MY lifetime ago) than I have since, so my exposure to “modern” authors is very limited. A writer should be well-read, but it is very hard for me to take time away from my writing time when I can sit down, which is why reading is included in my writing goals – thank goodness for audiobooks (and I’m pretty sure that the audiobooks experience is ALSO influencing my writing).)

In the end, a writer’s influences aren’t just about what he has read. Each of us lives our own life in our own way, and we bring our unique perspectives and experiences to what and how we write.

Think beyond your own reading. What else do you find that has had surprising influence on your endeavors? I’d be curious to see your thoughts in the comments.  

Just saying…

Current Book Promotions

In a Flash Detective Jimmy Delaney eBook CoverPurrMission-MainTall_025For information on my current promotions (including FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series and the release weekend of Ups and Downs: Detective Jimmy Delaney Collection #3), look HERE on my CURRENT BOOK PROMOTIONS page.

Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Want to help me make a go of this writing gig WITHOUT IT COSTING YOU A PENNY? I’m in the Amazon Affiliates program, so any time you click one of the links I provide here to my books on Amazon, and then make a purchase of something like, say, a TV, I get a small percentage of Amazon’s profit. So PLEASE consider using one of my links to get to Amazon before you make that next purchase. Thanx!


or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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