On my 19th birthday, I was told that I was adopted.
Don’t worry— I love my adopted family, and it grows very quickly. We hardly see each other, but we are very good at keeping in touch. They send me presents, write me letters often, and have been invested in my life since I was old enough to read.
You see, I was adopted into a family that I chose for myself. This family is my creative family: the authors, the musicians, the voices that I chose to fill my head with. They have talked to me for years, saying, “Take notes, because we’re about to rock your world and change the way you look at life.”
On my 19th birthday, I read a short book called Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (READ IT). It was one of those world-rockers. It told me that I have a creative lineage unique to me, like a real family tree, and that it dictates what kind of art I produce. When I want to make good art, I copy them without even really thinking about it.
This morning I woke up and took a census of all the books I have ever read. It’s crazy, I know, but I had to do it. I had to know what kinds of stories I love and who my writing family is. More importantly, I wanted to know who I’m copying when I try to create something. Based off of my top 75 books, I came up with the four essential branches of my writing family tree:
- light, charming, happy ending
- clever, funny
- left me feeling happy
- Favorite Family Members: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
- mastery of language, beautiful
- thought-provoking, insightful
- emotional connection
- left me feeling inspired
- Favorite Family Members: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, Hamlet by William Shakespeare, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- series, immersion, familiarity
- good vs. evil
- long term character development
- connection with characters
- left me feeling homesick (like I want to be a part of it)
- Favorite Family Member: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- haunting, dark, raw
- lingering, brilliant, fascinating
- world-rocking, takes time to process
- left me feeling sick or really out of it
- Favorite Family Members: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, The Giver by Lois Lowry, “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Shack by William P. Young
I’m honored to be a part of this family. Is there any chance you’re in it, too? Maybe second cousins or something?
Have a lovely weekend with your family,